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Supporting patients with coronavirus who are isolated from families and friends

Patients with coronavirus are often admitted with just the clothes they are wearing. Family members are not allowed to visit, and many find themselves without basic supplies, such as toothbrushes and nightclothes.

Sarah Davies, a Macmillan Cancer Support, Cancer Information and Support Facilitator, is part of the Patient Experience Team at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.

The team have been at the forefront of efforts to collect, secure and distribute supplies to those patients in the hospitals who are alone in hospital wards without necessities.

Sarah is still supporting people living with cancer by signposting people to local support, information and advice even though the Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Centre, located in the concourse of the University of Wales Hospital in Cardiff is now a storeroom.

Speaking about the challenges of running a team from the Macmillan Centre, Sarah, said: “It can be quite challenging as a team to work in this small room. We need to respect the two-metre guideline for social distancing – so only one person can be in the room at a time.”

There are two other collection centres – one at the Macmillan Cancer Support Information Centre at University Hospital Llandough and one at Woodlands House.

Prior to the UK-wide lockdown, Sarah had already closed the Macmillan information centre.

“It’s a small space,” said Sarah, “and I didn’t want to have people in there touching and sharing our information and support leaflets.” 

People looking for Macmillan Cancer Information and Support were directed to the Macmillan website at www.macmillan.org.uk.

Speaking about the support they have had, Sarah, said:” We’ve had some great support so far from both organisations and individuals. Just one great example, is the University Dental Hospital which gave us toothbrushes for the patients.”

University Dental Hospital in Cardiff donated toothbrushes
University Dental Hospital in Cardiff donated toothbrushes

The team are looking for further support from people and have set up a Just Giving page.

A number of volunteers usually help to support the Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Centres, but Sarah stood down them early in the crisis. Many of her volunteers needed to self-isolate but some remain keen to still help other people.

Clive Hall, Sarah Davies and Sandy Clubb
Volunteer Clive Hall, Sarah Davies and Volunteer Manager Sandy Clubb

Talking about future plans to use the skills of her Macmillan volunteers, Sarah, said: “University Hospital Wales has its own volunteer service, and I think that there are couple of the Macmillan volunteers who would be great supporting patients as part of the Health Board’s Chatterline service.

“This is where volunteers phone isolated patients. It’s a great way to combat loneliness and the impact that this can have on a patients well-being is tremendous.” 

Sarah is also in discussions with other senior Macmillan professionals to begin to identify and develop ways that they can support Cancer Nurse Specialists during this critical time.

If you are looking for information about all types of cancer, including diagnosis, treatments and drugs, as well as advice to help with the different ways cancer may impact your life, visit the Macmillan Cancer Support Website.

We understand that people living with cancer are worried about coronavirus.  We have information and advice here on our website.