Beatson Cancer Charity has been working closely with the Radiotherapy department at The Beatson for many years to provide early intervention and support to patients suffering from such severe anxiety they are unable to complete their medical treatment. However, the outbreak of Covid-19 meant a solution was required to ensure this vital support was still being provided from afar. This solution came in the form of virtual one-to-one sessions and distribution of MP3 Players pre-loaded with relaxation music and relaxation exercises.
The virtual one-to-one sessions are hosted via Teams, ZOOM or a landline telephone, for those who do not have access to the required technology. These sessions allow the patient to participate and learn these supportive techniques to help them through their medical procedures, such as mould room appointments, scans or radiotherapy treatment.
Previously, support was arranged by a referral from the radiotherapy department and the patient would be invited to the Wellbeing Centre for a one-to-one consultation and session with one of our trained therapists. However, during the current global health pandemic of Covid 19, these sessions had to be suspended.
Some patients may achieve the skills required to continue their treatment from one session while others may need a support plan in place for a longer period. There is no set path, and everyone is treated in a holistic way with their specific needs being identified and met. Sessions would usually last roughly 45-60 minutes with breathing exercises, mindfulness, meditation and relaxation all explored and discussed.
The main patient group to access this support has been head and neck cancer patients and we have a direct link with Heather Reid, Information and Support Radiographer at The Beatson. Heather and the team refer the patients they feel need this additional support to the service directly.
Another tool we have developed further is the use of MP3 players. This has proved highly successful in helping patients manage their anxiety in relation to treatment. These MP3 players are distributed with headphones and a charger; these are a gift for patients to keep. The MP3 players are pre-loaded with a variety of relaxation music tracks and two relaxation exercises presented by two Beatson Cancer Charity therapists Lisa and Gail, who jointly created the MP3 project in 2017.
We have received great feedback on both the one-to-one sessions and MP3 players.
“I would like to say that it has made such a big difference to me and the management of this group of patients, who we know have anxiety around the immobilisation device and their treatment. It has been really tricky over the past year with the centre being closed. You were my go-to place and the impact on patients was remarkable. Without the service, we have had to rely more on medication to enable these patients to get through their treatment. Having an alternative to offer is great and the patients themselves often prefer a non-medicated approach. So I, for one, am delighted that there is a service up and running, thank you.”