Specialist care now available locally

ANGUS Specialist Palliative Care Services provides support and advice to people who are living with cancer or advanced illness helping them to live better.

Macmillan Day Care Services, which was originally only delivered at Stracathro, is now also provided at Arbroath and Forfar.. The service offers specialist support and advice to patients with long-term conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, renal failure, Multiple Sclerosis, Motor Neurone Disease, end stage heart failure as well as patients living with cancer.

Helen Dryden, palliative care clinical lead, Angus Community Health Partnership, said, “When the Macmillan Day Care Centre first opened at Stracathro over 17 years ago all the patients referred there would have had cancer, however in the last few years we are now seeing an increase in the number of referrals for patients with long-term conditions.

“Having day care services delivered from three sites enables patients requiring palliative care to stay closer to home helping to reduce unnecessary travelling. Community-based day care offers patients and carers increased choice, flexibility and compassionate care within a welcoming local environment.”

Members of Angus Specialist Palliative Care Service provide day care at Ward 2 Little Cairnie in Arbroath every Monday. On Tuesdays and Thursdays they are at Macmillan Day Care Centre in Stracathro and on Wednesdays day care is available within Clova Ward at Whitehills Health and Community Care Centre in Forfar. One of the Specialist Palliative Care Doctors also runs a symptom control clinic on these days.

Last year there were over 1,500 visits by Angus patients at day care and almost 700 patient appointments at the dedicated symptom control clinic.

Specialist Palliative Day Care Service is integrated with the care already provided by local GPs and district nurses. The palliative care team work closely with GPs to ensure patients receive the support and information they need to improve their quality of life.

Patients can attend for up to five hours, one day per week, for a period of up to 12 weeks. During this time they have the opportunity to set goals and work on ways to help maintain their independence. As well as helping with patients’ physical concerns, this time can provide relief from isolation and loneliness and also enables carers to have a break, knowing their loved ones are cared for.

There are also three Macmillan Nurse Specialists based in Angus providing community-based palliative care. Over 200 patients were referred to the Macmillan community nurses last year and they carried out almost 900 visits. The nurses can visit patients and families at home, in community hospitals or in a care home to help support those living with cancer or advanced life limiting illness.

They provide information and support so patients can manage their symptoms and the emotional and social impact of advanced disease. The nurses work alongside a patient’s GP and community nurses and provide palliative care education to the wider healthcare team.

Helen added: “The Specialist Palliative Day Care Service aims to help people by listening to patients and helping them make the most of every day at what can be a difficult time in their lives. We work alongside primary care teams to help patients manage any symptoms, provide emotional support and, if appropriate, information on how to access financial support.

“Our service is very fortunate to have a committed group of volunteers who regularly provide additional services from volunteer drivers to helping with general hospitality as well as assisting with craft activities with patients. We also have volunteers who are fully trained and qualified complementary therapists. Patients, families and staff greatly appreciate the value the volunteers add to our team.”

“If you would like to find out more about Angus Specialist Palliative Care Services please speak to your doctor, nurse or social worker, or for more information on how to access Macmillan Day Care Services contact the centre at Stracathro on 01356 665014.”