Practical support and how to access it
What practical support is available to me during the pandemic and how can I access it? Hello, I'm M abhi and Welcome to our coronavirus series of talking cancer a podcast from McMillan and Boots where I get to talk to experts to get answers to the questions. McMillan is hearing the most off today. I'm joined by McMillan's chief medical officer the brilliant Rosie Loftus and Boots his chief pharmacist Mark Donovan to talk about the Practical support available for those affected by cancer and now people can access that support. I know our colleagues really value their ability to make a difference in people's lives as they go through their experience with cancer will all touch on the latest government guidance and what it means in practice for people living with cancer. If you are asked to attend an appointment, please do keep it and feel confident in doing so we'll also be hearing some updates from Mandy things that keep you connected with people. It's not the same as in person, but it is a good substitute if these are your circumstances now, we know that these recent changes page. Make some people feel very anxious and worried. Please have a listing back to episode 2 of the podcast if you're looking for some guidance and helpful tips about managing your mental health during the pandemic. We're McMillan and we're kicking cancer Rosie and Mark welcome back lovely to have you with us now as in the other episodes we've recorded. I'm going to time stamp this and we're recording this on the 23rd of October 2020 and all the information that we talked about is correct at the time of recording in episode one we discussed what people can do if they're struggling with the new often virtue of two ways of interacting with GPS Specialists and Healthcare professionals, the millions support line team are still receiving some calls about this. So I'd recommend that anyone worried about that particular issue liquid back to episode one for more information loads of great advice there. However, for some people physical appointments and treatments in hospitals GP surgeries and pharmacies are going ahead but Standardly people may be feeling very anxious about the safety of this while covid-19 is still very much present Rosie what precautions are in place in hospitals and Health Care settings at the moment and how are they making these environments as safe as they possibly can for patients? Yeah. Thanks emigrate to be back. Thank you very much. And as you say we talked about some aspects of this last time obviously, it's totally natural to worry about going for appointments. All of us are anxious at the best of times where when doing this but of course now, there's all the added concerns and Logistics on top of that but you know, he was telling me that actually they're really reassured by all the precautions that they see once they arrive. So again last time we did talk about that shift from not quite so many face-to-face appointments and some telephone or video. So that does actually help because that means there are actually less people going through the hospital and of course when you get there, you'll might have a timed entry you might be asked to log In your vehicle until your appointment time and some places are even giving page or alerts out. I know one of our McMillan information centers that same close to one of the hospitals. In fact, right next door. They've opened up their car park to allow people to part there and indeed if you aren't traveling by car, they're also allowing people to wait inside and the hospitals just buzzing straight across when they're ready for the patient off. And of course, there's all the cleanliness precautions Jetta at the doors PPE and for the staff in particular and then the red and green channels in the hospital so areas where cancer patients would be kept well away from potential infection risk and deep cleaning is just going on relentlessly. So I suppose I'd say there are so many precautions in place. The most important thing is that if you are asked to attend an appointment, please do keep it and feel confident in doing so and one last thing just following up on some of the conversation we had last time about the challenges of not being dead. Take someone to your appoint. Yes. Yes. Some of that is lightning up a little bit in some particular circumstances not across the board, but it it's really important so do ask because it might actually be possible that you can take someone to some of your appointments actually from a personal perspective a friend of mine one for her yearly check-up post treatment for breast cancer yesterday and the situation about taking a couple had changed so so she was able to take somebody with her not all the way. That's great. You make sure you ask. Yeah. Absolutely you did just touch on that lightly not everybody is able to be picked up from the front doorstep and dropped at the at the door of the hospital her many people public transports. The only way they're going to get to these appointments and that has its own level of risk and its own level of anxiety as well. What steps can patients take to ensure they are traveling safely themselves really understandable that you're going to be worrying about this and actually you might be worrying about it and feel I really can't bother people. Hospital or my health care teams to talk about this but actually you absolutely should it may well be that there are options that they can do to modify something simple like Changing Times of appointments. So you're not traveling that busy times and might be able to actually organize things so that for example a blood test might be closer to home. So so please do ask if there are any options to explore if you do have to travel then definitely follow the guidelines travel in a bubble where possible if you've got to travel in a taxi, for example where a mass can open the window and not follow the guidelines which you will find online and I know also that some of our McMillan information centers have been linking locally to see what transport services are available. So again, just whereas to assist with this if you're worrying about this ask there's so much talk of what's online and there's so much information online and I know for for some people who maybe don't have access to computers job Or a little bit older and there are people on the end of a phone on there at the hospitals at appointments that and people are willing to talk and explain through the processes that you might have to that. You might expect them very definitely again. I can only reiterate that on that men and support line. Is there also and we'll be able to answer these queries a direct you to any of our local services. So absolutely people are available at the edge of a phone be that your health care team or indeed the mcmillans support line. So absolutely you don't have to go online that there will be someone at the end of a telephone line. And so please pick up the phone and asked I think you know, when you have a cancer diagnosis, it's again creating levels of anxiety. Very basically though. How does the shielding measure that one place in lockdown Mary with these the the new three-tier system that's been introduced by the government recently. So, I think the most important thing is that you do need to check the local restrictions and guidelines. For your area and if you've got any specific concerns about this, then do check in again with your health care team. They might be able to advise about any adjustments and be able to reassure you about precautions. We are advised that there will be a letter coming from the government to people who are on the extremely vulnerable list and to explain to them what advice they need to take and that length is is immanent but I think it's really important at the moment with the rapid change. We're seeing and different geographical areas that you make sure that you're up to date on what the local advice is Margaret. Yes, Rosie mentioned obviously for pharmacies across the UK the changing restrictions and tear system is meaning that you guys as well having to be quite reactive quickly to to make the experience of being able to get along bonuses or access to information from you guys available quickly and safely. Yes. I am I Rosie it is confusing isn't it? And t as in England firebreaks lockdowns in in school? Northern Ireland and Wales. It is very important that you stay close to the local guidance and guidance on travel but for pharmacies are open as as they have been all along through this pandemic and and we continue to be open for advice and you can access your medication and there are rules and support on on doing that. So so feel free not only need to access them physically on the High Street, but also ring ahead and to Rosie's point, you know pharmacies are available to advise. If you have any questions on on how to access medicine or get them delivered or how to help order your prescription with your GP too. Lovely. Thank you. If there was one starting point that people can go to what's your advice about the first starting point for God in your local area many people will have already been on the gulf. UK website which is updated regularly, and actually you will be able to look for your local area on there. What I would also say is we talked on the phone. When we were talking previously about the map milenkovic Hub, which has lots of information to support cancer patients through the pandemic and on that Hub. You will find the update option but also with a link straight through to the gov UK because obviously if things as we said last time sometimes things get changed on a Saturday evening at 10:00, but you can get to the gov UK website from that map milenkovic and Mark once again, you know, the Practical resources available to be able to access medication from your perspective where where do people go immediately to find jobs that well, you can contact your local pharmacy. Of course, they will still be access and support for medication access for food delivery slots are still available etc. For those people home building or a vulnerable. We also have launched recently a virtual boots McMillan information pharmacist, actually. So so you could go Two Boots.com forward slash McMillan & Pub. An appointment with a pharmacist to be able to help talk you through any concerns or questions that you have around medication or wider issues with your cancer experience and we'd be able to jump in that way which is something that we started to bring in at the beginning of the pandemic earlier this year and something that many patients have hand care is to have have begun to access. So it's another way of life some of that advice there's lots of ways and lots of support available. So look at MacMillan support helpline and website as well as the boots website to be able to access that support Boise. It's always a difficult conversation and subject matter, but we need to talk about a very sensitive area that people are struggling with which is palliative care and especially palliative care in the community and the the vehicle T in contacting the appropriate Healthcare professionals, what practical steps can people take to understand more about their own or family members palliative care options during this time? Awesome, as you say palliative care is so very sensitive at all times and even more so a more challenging with all the restrictions at present, but I think the first thing I want to say is that for more than thirty years as a GP a really can't emphasize enough how important it is to actually have conversations understanding how very difficult that is the actually it's really important and I don't mean they're just conversations with your health care team, but also with your family and friends it's not easy starting those conversations, but over the years, I've seen a huge benefits as a result of those very open conversations. So in terms of practical, you know you it's important to say that palliative care is still available whether that's through District nurses GPS and Specialists or or at the hospice and some of these Services may be doing less face-to-face visits right now and trying obviously wrong. You reduce the risk and the spread of infection, but they all still there. They are still accessible and they have so much to offer in terms of supporting with physical symptoms and also emotional and practical support. It's a very isolating times, you know, without the pandemic. So to to know that this is still available and with conversations and bought some some persistence and supports that that kind of level of support is still there. Yeah, and and I I just had that I think also be really clear when you're engaging with these surfaces off then we'll contact numbers or available to you and and you know, which ones to use for when in many instances there will be a 24 hour line for you to access for queries. So do it may ask, you know to to know where people will be at the end of the line. And again, of course McMillan website has lots of information relating to palliative care some of it that would help you start those conversations job. And of course never forget that you kind of course contact the support line as well. Thank you Rosie. Thank you. Mark questions about cancer boots and McMillan A by your side took the moment. You're diagnosed through your treatment and beyond our boots McMillan information pharmacists are on hand with Specialists support from helping you make sense of your diagnosis back to advice about living with cancer. You can find them in your local boots Pharmacy or online via video appointment visit boots.com for more information subject to Farmer availability. Amanda and I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 and June first phase of code reader was classed as extremely clinically vulnerable. So shielded at home for a hundred days. We have much contact with anybody. I found it really hard to get a food slot start with but then through the local Council I was able to get a secured time slot on the supermarket of my choice and also they would check just to make sure and make me aware that there were local charity group setting up to do shopping as he needed it and the hospital how much they're covid-19 case on Point Break arrival clean masks temperature check kind of the questionnaire every visit temperature again, when you got to the department you were going to hand sanitizer of a sanitized within an inch of my life during that that particular. If there's a standard if you need if you can't find it you need to be able to ask someone you get quite resourceful as your cancer experience goes on to me. That's where my job I mean you all like the 50 mergency service you're on speed dial. It is developed making connections with people the online Forum on McMillan website for me there a secondary support groups stay connected with people things that keep you connected with people. It's not the same as in person, but it is a good substitute if these are your circumstances them some really useful tips there from Monday Mark. Now this episode on practical support you mentioned earlier a law, which I want to know a little bit more about cuz it sounds very exciting. It's the perfect opportunity really right now to delve into the wonderful support on offer from the partnership between boots and McMillan. So tell us a little bit off more about that. Well, yes the partnership started actually in in 2009. I was there at the beginning seems an awful long time ago, but I remember being really excited about this partnership as a wage. Started together McMillan's a wonderful charity and as a pharmacist the whole organization got behind the partnership and it was raising money through doing silly things of colleagues up and down the UK you through all of our different stores, you know, I at one time a number of years ago. I I even ran the London Marathon my legs are still recovering actually eight years on thought it was but but we were all behind this wonderful partnership and raised a lot of money over nineteen million so far with her boots McMillan partnership, this partnership has created found deeper connections than just a fundraising partnership and and soon after the partnership started sadly, you know, I had a real close up experience of the power of the partnership. My father was just diagnosed with cancer a mesothelioma, you know a cancer the lining of the lung developed over many years through exposure from asbestos and and he was diagnosed in the birth. And sadly passed away the following March and he was he was you know, my hero. I loved him so much and and lots of other people loved him too. And and he had a quite a complicated life experience of cancer. It was it was painful and he was in and out of hospice and there was lots of lots of messing around and and I had been a pharmacist that point for a number of years and I dealt with people, you know affected by cancer on a on a day-to-day basis I guess but it wasn't until I was on the other side of that experience. I realized that we could do better as pharmacists as pharmacists teens Rosie just mentioned it earlier about the power of conversations and and I couldn't agree more that didn't like to talk about things. He didn't complain about anything. He you know, he didn't want to worry any any of us really but I do remember having a conversation with him about dying, you know, and and like I said Rosie said it's so important. Have you know many of our conversations when he was going through? This was was you know, I've had a good day or a bad day. And then occasionally we we had some opportunities just to talk a little bit about deeper and I value those conversations and I remember a conversation turned out to be 2 weeks before he passed away. I promised him something then that something good would come out of this experience that he was having. You know, I I saw how much of a difference that his Pharmacy made in taking some of the hassle out of his experience, you know home is it's a whole load of things to cope with when you go in through cancer and I I know the pharmacy didn't think that they were helping that much and having that much of an impact, but they really were so long. So we we took that away and developed this boots McMillan Information Program just to take this partnership to a deeper more connected sort of level and and and then, you know recognition Using that beauty and feeling good is important for people when experiencing cancer as well. So we then developed boots McMillan Beauty je vais a role as well. And and as of the end of August, we we have over 2,000 boots McMillan information pharmacist. We have over a thousand boots McMillan beauty advisors, you know, they fundraise they advised they improve local connections with cancer teams and connect Healthcare professionals too. And it's wonderful to see it grow. It's wonderful to be a partnership that is more than just fundraising because I know our colleagues really value their ability and to make a difference in people's lives as they go through their experience with cancer. What was your dad's name? His name was Grenville Grenville. Thank you very much a legacy a legacy and home. Such an incredible journey you and melon have had together. Just tell us a little bit about as well that the boots McMillan information pharmacists another it's a very specific role that has been created. What could what can somebody expect if they are hoping to have a chat or an appointment with one of these guys? Will they get extra training for MacMillan, you know wider support or pharmacist own know about medicines and can advise around side effects and what to expect but you know, there's there's other things isn't there, you know, the fatigue the I was fascinated, you know that how to look after your skin if you're going through radiotherapy and watch soaps to use and you know, we we've trained our Pharmacists and our Beauty advises to to help on those more practical different areas that perhaps wage who who are affected by cancer don't want to ask their consultant about that they fear or they hadn't and they remember later on, you know, our boots McMillan information pharmacist said there to answer those questions signposts log. The services they can get identified by a little McMillan badge that they were in in our pharmacies or if you go onto a boots.com you can you could find your closest information pharmacist for you to go in and have a chat to really do you need to make an appointment to go in Marko. I mean if you're there and you see something I didn't know that about the that's how you identify boots my billing information pharmacist by the badge. I didn't know that so that's that's that's great. That's great to know. Yeah, and you can you can go onto boots.com forward slash McMillan and and you can search where your local store is and we took you whether or not that store has a boots McMillan information pharmacist or a boots McMillan beauty advisor. You don't need to make an appointment. You can just go and see them and they'll be able to answer your questions and sign post on and off further advice. And and like I said, you know through the pandemic we've developed the roll into a virtual information pharmacist. Now you do need to make an appointment with that of course, but you go online to make that appointment log. And and then we will connect you with a a virtual pharmacist. Like I said and you can talk to them through an application and see them ask their questions. If you age afraid of going out or can't get out you can still have the service and and a number of people are finding that really helpful as as you know, they struggle getting out and about at this time. Absolutely. I used to I remember when my mom was sick. She was she was so concerned with her feet not being really dry and an uncomfortable and we used to be in Boots the whole time making sure her faith Comforts those things. There's the Practical things isn't it? The little things they make a huge difference like a huge difference indeed Rosie McMillan has got other Partnerships as well in place to enable people with cancer to get practical support. What does that look like? What else is there that it might be worth exploring. We do have lots of other Partnerships as well. We've partnered with Nationwide for example for over 25 years and off. So Lloyds Bank Bank of Scotland and Halifax and the joy of this is that this is how we're able to help people with one of those worries Finance is a huge worry for people going through cancer for for lots of reasons. So and has trained the staff at these Banks so that they actually understand the specific impact of cancer on people's finances. And so that being trained in that they can then offer their expert practical advice in relation to managing finances personal banking mortgage has credit cards. So again, there's more information about these Partnerships on our website. So please do access them Mark Rosie as always just so full of information and great great advice and support package. If I'm going to I'm going to try and pin you both down to try and highlight the one piece of advice that you think is going to be the most useful for people who are finding themselves really struggling at the moment with practical support during this hideous job. And demek Mark. What what would your what would your piece of advice be? I'd say talk to people. That's what I'd say. I think there's lots and lots of advice around. Lots of people don't know what that advice is or supporters, but talk to McMillan talk to our pharmacists talk to you consultant. Don't suffer all on your own. There are people around to help Rosie opening. You're going to Waco that I'm going to work over there and I'm going to be really sneaky. I know you said you were going to try and pin us down him a but can I can I go for two and then you can actually to be fair it's because they're not really mine. They're both from a patient who spoke to me this week about her lockdown experience and as we know it's so hard also for family and friends when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer and often. It's such a struggle for those people to understand how best to help and support and at the moment it it that's again even more difficult because there are so so many fewer options off. And what she said was that actually she found it really helpful to just directly asked family and friends and ask for specific help. Okay, and she said things like can we have a telephone call and woke up her or an online couple or could you get to the shops and get me this and maybe if it was a treatment day, you know, could you cook an extra couple of portions of food and just leave them on the doorstep and not wishing to encourage any infection risk, obviously, so really practical things and the other thing she said which was obviously music to her ears and and great because that that that you know, that's what melons here for but she said the other thing she found really useful was what she described as many as clear and understandable information and just to know that Matt Millen was there and had her needs at its heart. So I suppose what I'd be saying is please do use all the information and support that MacMillan and boots have had, you know be that members online community for peer support all the support line and a nod See all the boot services that Mark has talked about and and all this information. You'll you'll find on the website. It's absolutely brilliant, and I just, you know, it's encouraging everybody to to pass this podcast around so that we can we can just get as many people to know about all the Fantastic stuff that is out there in this incredibly difficult time Mark Rosie. Thank you very much as always a pleasure speaking to you. For more information on the topics Rosie Mark and I have talked about in this episode head to our website McMillan forward slash talking cancer for resources advice and support is also where you can find out more about donating to McMillan in our next episode will be talking about money worries that people with cancer may have during the pandemic subscribe if you'd like to hear that and every new episode whenever it's ready and if you enjoy the series, please give us a rating or a review it helps others to find the podcast more easily. I'm Emma be talking cancer is a MacMillan cancer surgery podcast.