Case Studies

The Beatson Cancer Charity’s COVID-19 response

Section: MembershipThe ALLIANCEType: Case Study
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With some services suspended the charity implemented new ways of working to continue to support people during the pandemic.

The Beatson Cancer Charity supports those diagnosed with cancer as well as their families within the West of Scotland. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic this support was delivered through a range of wellbeing and specialist services including complementary therapies for inpatients and outpatients, specialist health and work support as well as volunteer support.  The Beatson Cancer Charity also fund 14 specialist posts within the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre (BWoSCC) including radiologists, researchers, clinical nurse specialists and a medical librarian. These posts enhance the care and support we can offer those affected by cancer and help advance research and education. The charity is committed to providing funding for vital research projects and investing in innovative medical equipment and services to help in the fight against cancer.

People undergoing cancer therapy are among those most vulnerable to COVID-19 due to compromised immunity and associated health issues. Many people are having their treatment plan adapted and those shielding at home face additional challenges day-to-day, in accessing the essential products and services they need to maintain their physical and mental wellbeing.  All of this is over and above the daily stress and strain which accompanies dealing with a cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Like many other services, the Beatson Cancer Charity was forced to temporarily suspend some of its services throughout lockdown period. During these difficult times, we have been working hard to ensure we’re with those who need us in new and different ways. Thanks to funding secured from the Scottish Government’s Wellbeing Fund, Beatson Cancer Charity is enhancing the services we offer through the distribution of 500 much-needed patient care packs. These care packs will be distributed to patients who are discharged to ensure they go home with the household essentials required for 3 days, such as food cupboard basics, toiletries, and puzzle books. Furthermore, we are distributing comfort packs to inpatients during their hospital stay providing key items at a time when relatives can’t bring those home comforts to them. We are now also able to offer an expanded telephone befriending service.

The Beatson Befriending Service aims to build a lifeline for those affected by cancer who may be particularly at risk of experiencing loneliness and isolation. This service provides a one-to-one telephone companionship which allows the building of good rapport and regular contact. The service is also a vital resource which can highlight how the service user can find out more about help available to them such as practical help, mental health support as well as where to find up-to-date Covid-19 pandemic guidelines and information. This service is offered to inpatients, outpatients as well as those who have completed treatment for cancer in need of essential one-to-one human contact and friendship. We have an amazing group of volunteer befrienders experienced in providing ward-based support ready to be matched to patients to deliver regular telephone contact.  Those who are interested in the Beatson Befriending Service can contact us by email at befriending@beatsoncancercharity.org (this link will take you away from our site) or telephone (0141 212 0505).

At Beatson Cancer Charity, we are determined to adapt and innovate our approach to supporting those affected by cancer. Gillian Hailstones, Director of Care Services explains: “Although we can’t see our patients in-person yet we’re still here to support them the best we can. We have had to make significant changes to the way we operate. We are delighted to be in this position to offer these enhanced and extended services for patients going through treatment, helping to prevent heightened anxiety levels, lower social isolation and maintain stability during this time of their cancer journey.”

 A strong advantage of being in the third sector is that staff and volunteers have been able to quickly pivot and respond to the changing needs of the patients. In response to Covid-19, volunteers have adapted their usual activities within BWoSCC such as providing support on the wards, helping patients access wellbeing services, and serving customers with a smile in our charity shop and café. Their skills and experience have allowed them to work with the staff to quickly offer our expanded and extended services in a safe way.

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