New integrated cancer care project launched across Western Trust

Western health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) Chief Executive, Neil Guckian, has joined Health Minister Robin Swann in praising an innovative new collaborative project which aims to improve the lives of people affected by cancer across the Western Trust area.

Pictured at the launch of a New Integrated Cancer Care Project across the Western Trust area are front row left to right: Jacqueline Gallagher, Advice North West; Jennifer Turner, Cancer Connected Communities Resource Assistant; Susan Gibson, Manager, Derry Well Women; Health Minister Robin Swann; Geraldine McKay, Director of Acute Hospitals, Western Trust and Genevieve Irvine, SWELL.
Pictured at the launch of a New Integrated Cancer Care Project across the Western Trust area are front row left to right: Jacqueline Gallagher, Advice North West; Jennifer Turner, Cancer Connected Communities Resource Assistant; Susan Gibson, Manager, Derry Well Women; Health Minister Robin Swann; Geraldine McKay, Director of Acute Hospitals, Western Trust and Genevieve Irvine, SWELL.

The comments came as both men attended the official launch of the Cancer Connected Communities project at the Silverbirch Hotel in Omagh on Tuesday, November, 9.

The collaborative project aims to integrate care for cancer patients across the Western Trust area over the next three years. The project is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland and has been developed with the award of a £465,000 grant from the National Lottery Community Fund.

The project brings together six charities and community and voluntary sector organisations to connect people affected by cancer to each other, to provide support in the community and to link them to the people who deliver cancer services so they can use their experiences to make improvements.

Although the lead partner is Derry Well Woman the project covers the entirety of the Western Trust’s geography through the involvement of the following partner organisations:

Action Cancer

Advice North West

Cancer Focus NI

Care for Cancer, Omagh

Supported We Live Life (SWELL), County Fermanagh

Speaking at the launch, Minister for Health, Robin Swann, said: “As part of my department’s Cancer Strategy we have developed a Cancer Recovery Plan, Building Back Rebuilding Better, which is focused on both recovering and improving cancer services while highlighting the need to adopt and build upon the innovative ways to deliver services. This project fits well with that aim and illustrates the collaboration between HSC organisations, across sectors and with patients, families and carers that will be a key enabler to effecting meaningful change.”

Minister Swann was joined by Western Trust Chief Executive, Neil Guckian, who said: “I am delighted to see these groups working together to connect and maximise their capability. Through the use of this approach, together we will build a healthier, integrated and more inclusive community in line with Health and Wellbeing 2026 - enabling people to stay well for longer.”

“The launch of this innovative project here today demonstrates the strong relationships that exist among our partner organisations and it will give the opportunity to build upon our support to patients and their families impacted by cancer.”

“Over the next three years, through the delivery of this initiative, we hope to demonstrate further what can be achieved through true collaborative working and by forging strong relationships between the Western Trust and our partner organisations.

“Ultimately it will be patients and their families that benefit and it is our hope that it will also lead to the delivery of stronger patient care in the months and years ahead.”

Paul Sweeney, Chair of The National Lottery Community Fund Northern Ireland Committee said: “We were delighted to award this National Lottery grant which has allowed the partners to come together in a coordinated manner to support people living with cancer. Well done to everyone involved.

“By putting people affected by cancer in the lead through this project, it will help them access additional support and improve services overall.”

The Manager of Lead Partner Derry Well Women, Susan Gibson said: “This is the first time that multiple charities along with the WHSCT have come together in a coordinated way to improve services for cancer patients. This is a great achievement and a commitment to work together and make change happen.”

While some of the funding will be used to further support the emotional, financial, psychological impact of cancer, the project will also be instrumental in enabling the personal experience of patients be heard.

Minister Swann, added: “The Cancer Strategy was developed adopting a co-production approach in conjunction with key stakeholders and service users. Its vision is to ensure that everyone in Northern Ireland, wherever they live, has equitable and timely access to the most effective, evidence based referral, diagnosis, treatment, support and person centred cancer care.”

Cancer Connected Communities will see cancer patients taking the lead in creating a change agenda to integrate cancer care in the WHSCT using coproduction and a 6-stage model of engagement.

Facilitators from each of the partner organisations will be trained in a specialised listening technique and will use this to deliver locally based programmes, capturing the experiences of those that use their services. The facilitators, group representatives and participants across all programmes will come together to agree a consensus and a shared agenda for change for individuals, families and communities living with cancer across the Western Trust Area. Through a number of negotiating change workshops, requests will be shared with cancer care service planners and providers, other cross-sector bodies e.g. education, housing, councils and the community and voluntary groups with the aim of agreeing commitments and an implementation plan in relation to issues raised by participants in their localities.

As part of the initiative, programmes and services will aim to address social wellbeing through support groups and health improvement activities. This includes addressing emotional wellbeing through counselling and therapeutic interventions, physical wellbeing through Behaviour Management Programmes, the promotion of checking and screening as well as financial wellbeing through benefits and social welfare advice.

Importantly, for some, the initiative also supports spiritual wellbeing by providing time for meditation, relaxation and connection to the things that sustain and supports the will to live.