Patient Comfort & Care
Every day, hundreds of cancer patients and their families make what can be a daunting journey to the Cancer Centre.
As well as striving towards the day when we beat cancer for good through our research, we also want to make sure that patients in the Cancer Centre today have the best facilities available and that their time here is as comfortable as possible. That is why we fund a variety of projects throughout the Cancer Centre which are aimed at making what is an extremely difficult time for people, that bit easier.
Take a look at just some of the ways we are making the Cancer Centre a welcoming and comfortable environment for our patients.
Financial support for patients
Our Patient Grants Programme, which gives local people going through treatment a helping hand by offering them financial support when they need it most, is one of the most important aspects of what we do. Many patients will find that a cancer diagnosis has a knock on effect on all aspects of their life, not least their financial security. Many people may find that they have to reduce their working hours or stop work altogether to undergo their treatment. As a result some are faced with a dramatically reduced income and financial demands that they are struggling to meet. We work closely with the social work team in the hospital to ensure that any patient in financial difficulty can avail of our support. Money can be in their bank account on the same day and this allows the patient to pay any necessary bills quickly.
This is not a hand out in our eyes; it's a helping hand. That's just what friends do
A warm welcome
Coming to the Cancer Centre, especially for the first time, is scary and it can be difficult knowing where you need to go for your appointment in such unfamiliar surroundings. To help make those first moments as stress free as possible, the charity funds a permanent receptionist who is on hand to help with directions any queries you may have. Our receptionist, Mirja, will become a familiar and friendly face during your time at the hospital.
Many patients and families are faced with long stays in the Cancer Centre and we are here to make sure that their stay, however long or short, is as comfortable as possible. Our recently refurbished day rooms in the Cancer Centre are a haven away from busy wards and hospital beds where you can relax in a soft chair, watch some television, enjoy a cup of tea or simply chat to family and friends in a more homely environment.
Supporting the Bridgewater Suite
Thousands of people attend the Bridgewater Suite for chemotherapy and review appointments and it can often be a long wait for many. To help pass the time, Friends of the Cancer Centre offers everyone who attends Bridgewater a complimentary cup of tea or coffee- now served in our own special cups - and a free newspaper or magazine.
Transporting patients safely between different wards and departments is a full time job for the hospital's porters and demand for wheelchairs is high. The charity bought a batch of new wheelchairs to ensure that one is available when a patient needs it. This also helps to avoid delays in other departments by ensuring that patients within the hospital are on time for appointments.
Every year, Friends of the Cancer Centre offers complementary therapy treatments, including massage and reflexology, to patients and their carers to help alleviate the stress and anxiety that comes with a cancer diagnosis. Over 1,500 people avail of these treatments every year. Find out more by calling the Support and Information Centre on 028 9063 8980.
Exercise and relaxation classes
Exercise can be a great way for patients to alleviate the stresses and side effects of cancer treatment and there is a wide range of classes available, such as yoga, pilates and tai bo. Each one is delivered by a trained practitioner who has years of experience working with patients. Find out more by calling the Support and Information Centre on 028 9063 8980.
Doing it for the kids
As well as looking after adults, Friends of the Cancer Centre also works to support children and young people attending the Cancer Centre for treatment. A little welcoming gift is on hand when they first come to radiotherapy and they also have their very own play area, packed full of toys, books and puzzles to distract worried little minds. Our kids zone is also a great distraction for families who often have to bring their children to hospital with them for appointments, giving them a place to pass the time.
Teenagers & Young Adults
For teenagers and young adults, a stay in hospital can be the most difficult. Giving these young people a space on their own was a key priority for staff in the Cancer Centre. In 2013, with the help of our patron Pete Snodden, Friends of the Cancer Centre opened a teenager and young adult day room and it’s a haven in the hospital. With a wide screen TV, games consoles and a kitchen, it offers a place for them to relax with family and friends away from predominantly adult wards.
Hidden in the middle of the Cancer Centre is an oasis for patients and staff away from the hustle and bustle of the Cancer Centre. The gardens provide an escape where patients can enjoy some peace and quiet while surrounded by beautiful flowers and plants. Each year, Friends of the Cancer Centre purchases the flowers, plants and some of the ornemental features in the garden and they are maintained by volunteers.
Glenview House is the on-site patient hotel which is used by patinets who live outside of Belfast and would otherwise face long journeys to and from the Cancer Centre for treatment. In 2008, the charity invested £150,000 into the unique project which was used to fund a complete refurbishment of the building. Today, Glenview is used by nerly 2,000 people a year.
While they might look simple, the patient pager becomes a familiar feature for any patient coming to the Cancer Centre. The pagers are given to patients on arrival and when the doctor or nurse is ready to see them, the pager vibrates and flashes. The pager has a wide radius which gives the patient freedom to move around the hospital, get a coffee or bite to eat, safe in the knowledge that they won't miss their appointment.
Getting young patients in a spin
The Belfast City Hospital Teenager and Young Adult (TYA) Cancer Service, which is a dedicated service consisting of Friends of the Cancer Centre’s clinical nurse specialist for teenagers and young adults, Renee Reid, launched a pilot fitness programme with seven young patients aged between 18-25 who have all under gone cancer treatments and are now entering survivorship.
Being diagnosed with cancer is a confusing time and most patients have questions about their diagnosis and treatment. Giving patients access to correct information is a key priority throughout the hospital and in recent years the charity has funded the production of cancer specific leaflets, compiled and distributed by relevenat staff. For example, the latest leaflet now in production has been developed by Melanie Blackwood from our CNS Development Programme and targets testicular cancer patients, offering insight into what happens after their treatment.
Gifts for patients
Life doesn't stop for patients undergoing treatment and many will find themselves celebrating their birthday, Christmas day, or even getting married. With the help of staff on the wards, we buy our patients gifts at these special times. In the past we have helped a couple get married in the hospital, given gifts to young patient's on their 18th birthday and even sent Santa to the wards on Christmas Eve to deliver presents because when you're here, we're here too.
Helping you get back on your feet
Cancer treatment often means more than receiving radiotherapy or chemotherapy, as many patients will also need help dealing with the side effects of their cancer through rehabilitation. Friends of the Cancer is supporting this by funding vital equipment, like these walking aids, in the hospital’s physiotherapy department.
Keeping you comfortable
Ensuring that patients are as comfortable as possible and that facilities in the hospital are in the best possible condition is a big part of what we do. We recently worked with staff on ward 2A to recover chairs in the waiting area, offering patients, families and visitors a nice environment in the hospital.
Supporting young patients in isolation
Undergoing treatment is really tough, but imagine if you had to be kept in isolation during your time in hospital. Many young patients face this and it can be a lonely and sometimes boring time. To help provide a distraction, we recently bought a DVD player and a selection of DVDs for our young patients to avail of. It might not sound like a big deal, but for someone unable to leave a room for weeks at a time, it is a lifeline.