Charity Partnership Hones Therapeutic Patient Support

The teams at GenesisCare’s UK centres have always been passionate about providing patients with holistic support alongside their treatment, and we are now taking this one step further by introducing dedicated whole person care thanks to a unique partnership with Penny Brohn Cancer Care.

Penny Brohn Cancer Care is a national charity with 30 years’ experience focused on helping people to live well with the impact of cancer. They deliver counselling and a range of complementary therapies and a variety of courses, including their ‘Living Well’ course which combines physical, emotional and spiritual support.

In the first phase of our partnership with Penny Brohn Cancer Care, our centres at Elstree and South Downs have welcomed Living Well co-ordinators, Dr Heather Mercer and Fiona Vaz, who are both experienced specialist cancer nurses.

They will work with patients and provide access to dedicated counselling as well as holistic therapies - including relaxation therapy, reflexology and acupuncture - all of which have been shown to benefit some cancer patients when used alongside clinical or medical treatment.

The therapies offered are all evidence-informed, and will be tailored to each patient’s individual needs, with the full approval of their consultant.

GenesisCare’s chief executive, Steve Bird, says: “We’re delighted to be the only private cancer care provider to offer this extent of care to our patients, allowing them to access appropriate supportive therapies in the centres, alongside their cancer treatment. We’ve known Penny Brohn Cancer Care for many years, and are extremely impressed with the complete and dedicated support they provide for people affected with cancer.

“Increased research into the area of complementary therapies is now showing evidence that these support therapies can help improve outcomes for patients. The charity’s national centre is an oasis of calm where people have the space and support to not only help them through their illness, but enrich their lives beyond cancer.

“Our partnership will bring the essence of Penny Brohn’s Living Well course into our centres, enabling our patients to benefit from additional support and holistic care.”

Fiona and Heather have undergone a comprehensive training programme at Penny Brohn Cancer Care’s National Centre in Bristol, and have recruited specialist counsellors and complementary therapists to work alongside them.

Fiona, who works at Elstree Cancer Centre in Hertfordshire, has a wealth of experience having spent 22 years working as a nurse, the majority of which has been in oncology. Most recently she spent seven years as a Macmillan clinical nurse specialist where she worked in a variety of roles with patients from diagnosis through to the completion of their treatment, supporting both them and their families.

Fiona said: “It’s great to be joining the Elstree Cancer Centre team, and I’m enjoying launching the new Living Well service. What really interested me in the role is being able to take a whole-person approach to supporting patients. It’s not just about focusing on their illness, but supporting patients through their treatment journey, as well as for life beyond their cancer.”

As a young nurse, Heather was committed to promoting complete and comprehensive care for cancer patients and has seen steady progress over the last two decades. Heather gained a wealth of experience in academic and clinical posts, and spent six years as Director of Education and Research with Marie Curie Cancer Care. She went on to gain a doctorate at the University of Sussex, and has recently returned from Cyprus where she developed a new Faculty of Health.

Heather will be working at Cancer Partners UK’s South Downs Centre in Hampshire. She explains: “Some patients may need our support even before their treatment – perhaps to help them with relaxation techniques if they are worried about their CT scan, or having a facial mask fitted - and we’ll be working with consultants to ensure patients get full benefit from our service.

“It’s still early days, but this is a really exciting new venture which will undoubtedly benefit GenesisCare patients.”

GenesisCare will be rolling out the Living Well service to other centres during 2014, as well as developing the programme to include diet and exercise advice.

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