As a new member of the team at the Sussex Cancer Fund, I have had a few months of introductions and learning. It has been a really humbling experience as I have seen first hand the wonderful work the staff does across many departments. The one thing I have come to understand is that they are busy, really busy. Which is why I felt so honoured when Kate McBurney, Operational Lead Radiographer at the Sussex Cancer Centre invited me to spend some time with her and the team.
My visit to the department was during a live clinic so it allowed me to see how staff interact with patients, making them feel at ease as much as possible.
In the first part of my time there I was shown around by Sarah Winrow – Lead Treatment Radiographer. The team treat between 50 and 75 patients a day at the centre. Between patient treatment, Sarah showed me one of the LINAC (Linear Accelerator) and explained how they work and some of the set-up processes. She demonstrated some of the equipment that the Sussex Cancer Fund had provided. Much of the equipment are practical items that are used directly in treatment such as knee fix cushions and breast boards, which are all used to help immobilise patients when they are receiving treatment. However many of the items were purchased to give patients a little more comfort. The Sussex Cancer Fund has provided soft-touch mattresses made from specialist materials which help make frail patients more comfortable but still allow the beams to penetrate so treatment isn’t impaired.
The Sussex Cancer Fund has also provided music systems, which play in the treatment rooms and changing rooms. The music can help calm patients and provides a level of privacy as it helps to cover any potentially sensitive conversations staff may be having.
Another small touch is the provision of personal PJs for patients. The PJs are provided to patients for the length of their treatment. Patients are able to take them home with them and offer much more modesty than the traditional hospital gowns. They are also specially made with non-metallic fastenings so they can be worn during treatment and preserve some dignity.
Kate McBurney then went on to talk to me about the team and the role that the Sussex Cancer Fund plays in making improvements for both patients and staff. Patient care and comfort is always a priority for her and her Team and the Sussex Cancer Fund helps with this. This is even down to the provision of tea & coffee for when clinics are running over.
The role that Sussex Cancer Fund plays for the team is very important and is demonstrated by the ongoing massive support the staff have for the charity, it is definitely a two-way partnership. They do as much as they can to raise money for the charity, one notable event was in 2012 when 4 radiographers and 1 medical physicist known as the ‘The Rays’ – swam a relay across the English channel.
You can read more about one of the recent purchases from the Sussex Cancer Fund here, which talks about the new state of the art trolleys we recently purchased.
If you would like to help the Sussex Cancer Fund provide even more equipment & services for the department you can donate using the button below.