It’s a question many people diagnosed with cancer will ask at least once. The question may relate to an aspects of their life, or to their treatment, and it may not be easy question to answer.
Over the past few years my colleagues and I have used AHPScot to showcase innovations in cancer rehabilitation, and to highlight gaps in service provision. We’ve been able to showcase the diversity of AHP roles and the wide array of services that support people to live well after a diagnosis of cancer; to determine what’s next and to adapt to and cope with whatever comes around the corner. We’ve also illustrated how we’ve come together as professionals, to learn from each other and to strengthen working relationships for the benefit of service users. During the next month we’d like to take that opportunity again; further showcasing the impact of new and improved approaches and challenging fellow clinicians, service managers and funders to consider how we can ensure the needs of people affected by cancer are addressed now and in the future.
However, before the blog series begins I just wanted to take this opportunity for some reflection as I have been incredibly privileged in my role as the National Macmillan AHP Lead for Cancer Rehabilitation to work with a variety of inspirational staff, patients and carers who have, over the past few years, strived to deliver effective and efficient services. If you look back at our previous blogs (click here to view) I hope it will be evident that we have, as a group, collectively delivered projects, carried out research, tested new ways of working, challenged the norm, improved aspects of care, and presented solutions to problems which could otherwise limit access and outcomes. We’ve worked with individuals and groups, and at service, regional and national levels. We’ve stuck within the boundaries of cancer services and we’ve worked across traditional siloes generally determined by geography or disease/condition. However, despite these successes I must concede that our work is not yet done… many people affected by cancer still have unmet needs at various points in their cancer pathway and we must look to the future and consider how we can ensure this is not the narrative of the future.
Over the past few years I have come to realise that:
- Individual needs are often complex, varied and multiple in number, as such prioritisation, shared decision making and collaboration is key to planning and execution;
- Many of the allied health professions are core to the tiered approaches required to meet the needs of people affected by cancer;
- Generalists and specialists are equally as vital when it comes to cancer service provision, particularly when striving for the delivery of personalised care in a location close to home;
- There are many different ways of achieving positive outcomes;
- Sometimes it is necessary to tweak an approach in order to successfully replicate it in a different geographical area; and
- It often takes as much effort, if not more, to sustain an intervention than it does to test and evaluate something new.
With each of these points in mind it is evident to me that we are lucky to be part of an AHP community which has such a deep and varied skill set, and this resource must be exploited wherever possible if we are to meet the needs of the cancer population now and in the future.
Over the last few decades the incidence and prevalence of cancer has increased, and our understanding of the impact of cancer at an individual and population level is becoming ever clearer. Over the next few blogs colleagues will illustrate the diversity of needs and the approaches required to address them. This will subsequently allow us to question when is the right time to get involved, what can each of us bring to the table, and how can we ensure cancer rehabilitation in all its guises is a key component of cancer care? In other words, what’s next?
- Share your thoughts on cancer rehabilitation and the AHP role on twitter using #AHPCancerRehab or tweeting me @DebbieProvanRD;
- Comment below or at the end of the forthcoming blogs, contacting the authors and collaborating for the future;
- View and join our community of practice: http://www.knowledge.scot.nhs.uk/cancerrehab.aspx;
- Look out for tweets on Sept 6th when AHPs from across Scotland will join together to discuss prehabilitation and on Sept 10th when occupational therapists will meet to discuss oncology and palliative care;
- Find out more about the role of AHPs in cancer rehabilitation by looking at the re-launched ‘Cancer Rehabilitation Pathways‘ document (note work on the cancer rehabilitation pathways is ongoing and emerging evidence and national policy will be considered alongside the pathways document in the coming months);
- Get in touch with me at Debbie.Provan@nhs.net if you want to talk about any aspect of cancer rehabilitation in Scotland.
Debbie Provan is a Registered Dietitian and works as the National Macmillan AHP Lead for Cancer Rehabilitation in Scotland, and the Regional Lead for Transforming Care After Treatment with the West of Scotland Cancer Network. She is also a PhD student at the University of Glasgow.