26 July 2023

Beyond clinical: you can help Canberra harness the power of holistic cancer care

| Dione David
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Caroline McIntyre smiles and leans on a hospital reception counter, next to a bunch of flowers

Caroline McIntyre, an expert in cancer services operations management, says a holistic approach to cancer care provides better outcomes for patients and their families. Photo: Louiza Blomfield.

The modern understanding of optimal cancer care is that it does not stop at a patient’s clinical treatments.

From addressing the psychological impacts of a diagnosis to dealing with the social fallout after a person enters remission, a holistic approach has proven the potential to greatly improve outcomes for cancer patients and their families.

That’s why, on level three of the Canberra Region Cancer Centre, cancer patients and their families will experience integrated, multidisciplinary psychological, emotional and social therapies to complement their clinical treatments at the Wellbeing Centre and Research Hub.

Canberra Region Cancer Centre operations manager and cancer services operations management expert Caroline McIntyre said having the purpose-built facility in co-habitation with clinical treatments made comprehensive care more accessible.

“It’s a crucial element of comprehensive support for patients and their families, that we not limit our focus to clinical treatments, but broaden care to the emotional, psychological and social wellbeing during and after their treatment,” she said.

“Dealing with cancer is a challenging time in people’s lives, to say the least. Often the treatment is long, they’re spending day after day in clinical settings, they’re entering a new world and it can remove them from the life they knew completely.”

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With a focus on evidence-based, non-invasive therapies that work alongside clinical care, treatments at the Wellbeing Centre may include group or creative therapy sessions, education on exercise and nutrition, social gatherings and counselling for people living with cancer, transitioning out of cancer care and for carers of cancer patients.

It will also include a relaxation room and IT space for study and offer space where organisations such as Cancer Council and Leukaemia Foundation can run support programs.

“A lot of research has been done through established centres and hospitals around this kind of supportive care and how important it is to provide support away from a clinical environment. In the last few years our awareness of this has been increasing,” Ms McIntyre said.

“The evidence says when that kind of support through wellbeing centres is offered, it strengthens traditional cancer care experiences and outcomes.”

The Wellbeing Centre will be available to cancer patients and their families from diagnosis, throughout treatment and during their transition period out of cancer care.

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Ms McIntyre said it was a shining example of the transformative power of organisations such as the Canberra Hospital Foundation, whose fundraising efforts – particularly its annual gala – were integral to the Wellbeing Centre.

The Canberra Hospital Foundation Golden Gala is a prestigious fundraising event dedicated to supporting the development and expansion of the Wellbeing Centre and Research Hub.

This year’s Golden Gala is set to celebrate 50 years since the opening of Canberra Hospital.

“We’re incredibly fortunate to have the support of Canberra Hospital Foundation to help raise funds for the wellbeing centre through this event,” Ms McIntyre said.

“We’re so grateful to the foundation for the work it has done and continues to do. Pulling this event together is an enormous effort and makes all of this possible.”

Among the night’s activities will be the announcement of the winners of big ticket items in the epic All Bids Auction, offering a swathe of knockout items to bid on.

Generously donated by event sponsor Lennock Volkswagen through its dealer principal Peter Munday, is a limited-edition Justin Bieber Vespa (one of only 34 in Australia) and a new 2023 Volkswagen T-Cross.

Other items include Culture Club and Sam Smith tickets donated by the Rolfe Family, white goods, artworks and high-end experiences.

“We’re hoping as many people as possible will support this event in any way they can,” Ms McIntyre said.

“Not only will it be a wonderful night, but it will help us see this dream – which is what it’s been for many of us – come to fruition.”

The auction is open now to all, regardless of attendance, and ends at 10 pm on 4 August, with every dollar raised going towards the Wellbeing Centre and Research Hub at Canberra Hospital.

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