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Volunteer led service to provide complementary therapies for cancer patients and carers

The aim of the project is to provide complementary therapies for cancer patients and carers of cancer patients before, during and after treatment through establishing and operating a volunteer led service

North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT) is leading on a project is to establish and operate a volunteer led service providing a range of complementary therapies for cancer patients and their carers before, during and after treatment as part of our wider programme of cancer survivorship activities.

The intention is to develop a robust framework to support qualified practitioners to provide complementary therapies safely and appropriately.

The new service will be based at our recently opened NGS Macmillan Wellbeing Centre, which is rapidly becoming a hub for cancer related information, advice and support for cancer patients and relatives as well as for staff supporting cancer patients in acute and community settings.

The project will involve:

  1. The development and delivery of a tailor–made training programme designed to prepare the volunteer therapists to understand and more effectively meet the needs of cancer patients and their carers in the delivery of therapies.
  2. The recruitment of a number of volunteer trained complementary therapists with an existing a range of skills and expertise (within their field of competency).
  3. Training of these volunteers to enable them to provide therapies to cancer patients.
  4. The appointment and the training of dedicated trainer/trainers to develop and deliver the training programme.
  5. Development of appropriate staff to oversee the service on a day to day basis.
  6. Oversight and management of service development, review and evaluation by a dedicated project manager and the NBT Cancer Services Management Team.
  7. The dissemination of the outcomes of the project to a wider audience both locally and nationally.

NBT is working towards a service redesign in the approach to care and support for people affected by cancer, which involves implementing an integrated model of survivorship into the care pathway for everyone diagnosed and treated for cancer with a greater focus on recovery, health and wellbeing after treatment.

The service will be offered to any adult patients with cancer and carers of cancer patients under the care of NBT. Cancer patients who are not registered with the Trust will be accepted with the consent of their Consultant, GP or Clinical Nurse Specialist. Patients and carers will be offered a programme of four to six complementary sessions per year at no cost.

NBT aim to utilise existing expertise and staff to facilitate development of training materials and to oversee the running of this initiative. 

The project is aiming to be completed in June 2016.

Carol Chapman, Lead Cancer Nurse at NBT said: Our project is progressing to plan. We have already run a tailored training programme delivered by an experienced trainer and have recruited a number of volunteer therapists who have started provided complementary therapies at the Wellbeing Centre. We are in the process of designing our own programme and aim to hold our next training session in January.


Anticipated benefits:

Benefits to the health and social care community include:

  • Patients reporting better quality of life and health outcomes.
  • Reduced hospital admissions/re-admission before, during and post treatment leading to better health outcomes as well as cost savings.
  • Reduced need for visits to GPs and support needed from other health and care providers as a result of a reduction in emotional and physical stress associated with cancer.

The aim is to utilise existing expertise and staff to facilitate development of training materials and maximise the potential of volunteers within our region.

It is anticipated that we will have the potential to deliver over 1000 therapies a year.

There will be reduced pressures on services both in the acute and community settings as listed in the benefits section above.

In the longer term, the aim is that the programme will become self-sustaining through income generation.

For more information, please contact Carol Chapman.

This Page was last updated on: 7 December 2015

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