29 OCT 2019 Network “Support & Information for Cancer patients and their families”

11.45 am – 1.30 pm Hindu Community Centre, Albert Road, Ilford

This network meeting aimed to raise awareness of the support that is available in Redbridge in the community for cancer patients and their families and proved to be a very informative and well attended event.

Everyone received a very warm welcome to the VHP Community Centre from VHP Chair, Alok Upadaya and then heard from two Redbridge GPs  Dr Vaibhav Mathukia and Dr Hema Giridhar about the NHS screening services for bowel, cervical and breast cancer.   Unfortunately the take up of screening services is very low in Redbridge but early diagnosis is vital to prolong life expectancy so it will be so helpful to encourage others to participate in both the cancer screening programme and the NHS immunisations programme. 

Rajiv Bhattarcharjee and Zeba Rashid of Macmillan Cancer Relief then spoke about the information and support the charity offers to people living with cancer and their families.  This includes physical, emotional and financial support delivered via Macmillan centres in hospitals, mobile information units, and the telephone support line which includes access to clinical advice and online chat forums.

Jan Scott and Karen Freeman from St Francis Hospice explained about the services and support available both at the hospice and in the community with the “Tea & Talk at Toby” monthly support group and the “Hospice at Home Service”.   Patient support includes outpatient support groups and activities at the hospice, in patient respite care to assist pain management, and bereavement support.  Jan encouraged everyone to think carefully about preparing an “End of Life” Care Plan very much as mothers are encouraged to do these days and prepare a “Birthing Plan” in readiness for the delivery.  To think about the “where”,  “what”  and “ who” in advance can bring peace of mind and avoid people  ending their lives in A&E, or in ambulances which can be distressing.  Charlotte Wender spoke about the opportunities to get involved in fundraising for the hospice and reminded us that hospices only receive limited NHS funding and have to make up the difference by raising funds.

Steve Smith of Redbridge Vision spoke about the extensive exercise on referral schemes that Redbridge Vision offers following a referral from a health professional – these include cancer rehabilitation and programmes for other chronic health conditions and obesity.  The schemes only cost £12 for a 12 week programme and then participants are offered the opportunity to take out discounted membership of the leisure centre which includes access to many different classes.

Mike Palfreman, CEO of Haven House explained that this hospice cares for children and young people up to the age of 18 who have life limiting conditions.  Currently 20% of their users are cancer patients (75 children) – support offered to children and their families includes respite inpatient care, therapeutic play, music therapy, working with families to build memories, and bereavement support.  Haven House is now working in partnership with St Francis Hospice to provide a transition service and a young adults group.  The hospice also works closely with the Whipps Cross Oncology Unit and Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital.  There are many fundraising and volunteering opportunities available to help support the hospice. Redbridge Faith Forum is very grateful to PowHr Advocacy Services, Healthwatch Redbridge, Macmillan Cancer Care, Redbridge Vision, St Francis Hospice and Haven House who all manned information stands and were happy to speak to participants on a one to one basis at the end of the event.