Tell us about your organisation?
Our Macmillan Cancer Psychological Support (CaPS) Service based at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust launched back in 2016, initially as a pilot funded by Macmillan to help get our service up and running. We have grown into a busy, innovative, award-winning and highly-regarded clinical service driving developments locally, nationally and at international forums. Despite the recognition, quality patient care for those affected by cancer at St George’s and in the surrounding locality remains at the heart of what we do.
What services do you offer people living with cancer?
Our ‘bread and butter’ is the provision of evidence-based clinical interventions, information and support addressing the psychological impact of cancer care as part of routine cancer care throughout the cancer pathway. We also work closely with our cancer colleagues in providing training, supervision and consultation to cancer health professionals to ensure that the whole team can provide good psychologically-informed care to those affected by cancer. We feed into approaches across the cancer pathway around personalised care, supporting prehabilitation initiatives and patient diagnosis, addressing psychological needs throughout and following treatment, and supporting palliative and end of life care. We also work closely with primary care colleagues and those in mental health services and the third sector to support the psychological rehabilitation of patients in the community.
Do you have a target demographic who use your services?
Our multidisciplinary clinical service is available to adults on an outpatient basis and on our hospital wards, as well as those involved in their care (e.g. carers, families). We provide one-to-one evidence-based interventions, as well as working with couples and families as appropriate. Importantly, we are there to support all patients, whether it be those whose cancer has exacerbated a pre-existing mental health issue, all the way to those who have never struggled psychologically until faced with the challenge of adjusting to cancer and its wide-ranging impact.
How are you funded?
We were initially funded by a Macmillan pilot, but in recognition of the value we add for patients, their loved ones and staff working in cancer care, our local commissioners picked up funding for our service on a substantive basis back in 2018.
What’s the most rewarding thing about the work you do?
Undoubtedly knowing we make a difference not only to our patients and their loved ones, but also to all of those working in cancer care. In a highly medicalised setting, this can sometimes be a struggle and psychological needs can sometimes slip down the agenda. Knowing that we can do our bit to ensure cancer care for our patients and their loved ones is truly holistic and works towards helping patients to adjust to the psychological and mental health challenges that cancer might cause or exacerbate in a patient’s life – this is the real reward for us.