A pioneering scheme is being launched across northern Devon this Monday 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, www.nhs.uk/ipg
Macmillan-approved books about cancer will be 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."
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 is intended to supplement 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 www.nhs.uk/ipg
- The clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) who are assigned to each cancer patient at North Devon District Hospital.