Pioneering project reaches out to cancer patients and their families in North Devon

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By tinap | Monday, December 03, 2012, 11:44

A pioneering scheme is being launched across north Devon today to ensure that cancer patients and their families can get the right information and advice, when they need it, close to home.

Devon County Council, the Peninsula Cancer Network and Macmillan Cancer Support have joined forces to make it as easy as possible to find the right books, leaflets, online support and expertise.

The Council's libraries in Barnstaple, Bideford, Holsworthy and Ilfracombe will be used as central hubs for each community, providing access to information and specialist support.

The libraries will be holding monthly Macmillan/CAB advice and guidance sessions on benefits and financial advice for people with cancer and other life-limiting illnesses.  These are also available to carers and relatives.

Library staff will provide internet support and assistance to people wanting to access NHS Choices' information prescription site, 

And Macmillan-approved books about cancer are available on free loan – some written by people with cancer themselves while others offer more technical information.

Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council's Cabinet Member for Communities, said: "Being told you or a loved one has cancer, can be a real shock and understandably everyone has lots of questions and concerns.

"Starting to find out about what will happen and where to get help can be very daunting.We want to make sure people know where to begin to look for information and help.

"Our libraries have an excellent range of good quality books and resources about cancer, and our specially trained staff can really help people access trustworthy information, and find the right information at what is a very difficult time.

"By working in partnership with local cancer support organisations and North Devon Hospital we can make sure people in area  with cancer or their friends and families can access the support and information they need on their doorstep, something we know is very important to people at a very difficult time."

Councillor Andrea Davis, Devon County Council's Cabinet Member for Health & Wellbeing, said: "We know that cancer makes people feel confused and vulnerable and not being able to find the right information or get the answers you need can leave patients and their families feeling isolated and unsure of what is ahead, which can be very frightening.

"Information gives back a sense of control and dignity, from the initial diagnosis through treatment and beyond.Doctors and specialist support services help people when they are in hospital receiving treatment, but when it comes to being back at home it can often be much harder, especially in more rural areas.

"Often patients say they spend hours doing their own research online as they have questions they didn't want to ask at the hospital or feel their questions hadn't been fully addressed fully or they hadn't understood the answer.

"However, not everyone has access to the internet or can ring up their doctor with a question.

 "Libraries are the ideal way that patients can access information and vital support. They are at the heart of our communities, and this scheme will increase the availability of high quality cancer information and support locally and at times which are convenient, saving people the need to travel huge distances, which is often very uncomfortable and expensive."

Nikki Thomas, Nurse Director at the Peninsula Cancer Network, said:

"We know only too well that getting to Exeter or Plymouth can be tricky for people in northern Devon, especially as those affected by cancer tend to be older and might rely on public transport.  The involvement of local libraries means we'll be able to bring information and advice much closer to home."

The project supplements existing sources of information on cancer for patients and their families, including:

•The Macmillan Support Line, which offers emotional support and benefits advice as well as information, Monday to Friday from 9am to 8pm.  It is free from all landlines and most mobile networks.  Tel: 0808 808 0000.

•GP surgeries, with doctors and practice nurses equipped to provide information as well as medicines.  Anyone who can't make it to the surgery can find the material for themselves by using the information 'prescription generator' at

•The clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) who are assigned to each cancer patient at North Devon District Hospital.



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