A new Health and Wellbeing Campus, the first of its kind in the North, will opens its doors in Derry today beside the freshly refurbished Agnes Jones House at Altnagelvin, which is named in honour of a famous 19th century nurse who counted Florence Nightingale among her friends.
The new campus, developed by Macmillan Cancer Support and Western Trust, incorporates a state-of-the-art Macmillan Support Centre and the recently refurbished Agnes Jones House next door.
Macmillan and the Western Trust have been working closely together for many years and this is their latest exciting joint venture to improve cancer services for people across the North West.
The Health and Wellbeing Campus will provide support to people affected by cancer and other long-term conditions in the Western Trust, and people from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Health and Social Care Trust attending the Northwest Cancer Centre for treatment.
Paula Kealey, Strategic Partnership Manager at Macmillan Cancer Support said: “A diagnosis of cancer is often devastating for the individual and for their family and friends.
“It can impact on all aspects of life causing physical, practical, emotional and financial concerns. We know that when people receive the right support and information, tailored to their own needs, it can help them to cope better and feel more in control of their lives.
“At the campus, we are bringing important services together in one place, making it easier for people to ask questions, share their concerns and find out more about the services that can help them in a place that feels more like home than a hospital.
“People affected by cancer are at the heart of this centre and have helped shape the way it looks and feels and so it has been designed to create a welcoming, relaxed and comfortable environment with support delivered by trained staff and volunteers.
“We recognise that many people with cancer can have other health conditions.
“That is why we are delighted that this new Campus will provide support services for people with a cancer diagnosis and those with other chronic conditions, and will be signposted to local services within their community.”
Geraldine Duddy is a local volunteer at the Macmillan Support Centre and knows from experience just how devastating a cancer diagnosis can be.
“I had treatment for breast cancer over 20 years ago and it was a frightening, lonely experience at times.
“I know how important it is to talk to people who understand what you’re going through and how you might be feeling.
“The Centre feels so peaceful and bright – it’s great that people can just drop in for a chat and know that they’re in a safe, nurturing space where they can get the help they need.”
Macmillan is investing over £1.5 million in total within the Western Trust for capital development and staff.
This investment includes Macmillan outreach information centres in the North West Cancer Centre at Altnagelvin, the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen and the Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex.
Information and support partnerships are also underway with Healthy Living Centres and Libraries NI in the area.
The Western Trust has sourced £500,000 from general capital and various Trust funds to support the development of the Campus.
Fiona Beattie, Assistant Director of Cancer Services at the Western Trust welcomed the opening of the new centre, she said: “The Trust is delighted to see the opening of the new Health and Wellbeing Campus and we look forward to promoting its benefits to our patients.
“At the North West Cancer Centre we strive to provide the highest level of treatment and care. The new Health and Wellbeing Campus will complement the services provided at the cancer centre and give more support to our patients as they live and manage their condition.”
Ms. Beattie thanked Macmillan for their work on the major project.
“I would like to thank Macmillan, not least for their vision and commitment to delivering the Campus, but also for their continuing support to people living with long term conditions in this area.”