Our new volunteer-led cancer ‘catch up call’ service means that patients and their loved ones can now receive extra support without making the trip to hospital.
The service allows patients and their families to chat on the phone with trained volunteers at our cancer information centre.
The new service began in February this year at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic as a pilot scheme. The scheme, run in conjunction with the National Cancer Programme, works to deploy existing volunteers in new virtual roles.
The volunteers offer emotional support over the phone to anyone affected by cancer. This includes patients undergoing cancer treatment, or family and friends having a hard time coming to terms with a loved one’s diagnosis.
Anyone who would like to access the service can simply get in touch with the cancer information centre to book a time and a volunteer will phone them for a chat.
Since its implementation, the pilot scheme has been embraced by service users, volunteers and staff.
Meet catch up call volunteer Sue
Sue Carter, from Trimdon, is a 74-year-old volunteer in the cancer information centre at the University Hospital of North Tees. She has been volunteering for almost 10 years now and was eager to get involved with the catch up call service to offer a friendly ear.
She said: “I talk to people who are maybe having a hard time. They are managing hard circumstances and if having a chat with me brings them out of their little bubble for half an hour then I have achieved something.”
The volunteers can talk about anything non-medical and offer a listening ear to people affected by cancer.
Sue continued: “Sometimes they need a bit of emotional support. And other times they just fancy a chat to take their mind off things. We can talk about anything – pastimes, hobbies, TV, I had a conversation about hedgehogs the other day!”
The catch up calls were rolled out in order to meet the needs of cancer service provision to support NHS frontline services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a recent survey carried out by the Trust, all cancer service users who participated in the pilot reported that they felt they had received emotional support from the phone calls with many saying this had a direct impact on their mental health.
It was an emotional time because it had been a year to the day when I started shielding. I felt listened to and thoroughly enjoyed it – I was able to speak about my concerns.Feedback from an anonymous patient
The pilot scheme has been hailed as a success by volunteers and staff alike. Now, the catch up call service is set to continue at the Trust for not only the remainder of the pandemic, but for the foreseeable future. This means that people who may not be able to access the cancer information centre on a regular basis can use the service for some extra emotional support.
“A real success”
Alan Chandler, Macmillan information and survivorship manager, said: “Providing the catch call service has been a real success. Patient feedback has been really positive and our volunteers really enjoy making the calls.
“Our volunteers are amazing and are at the heart of everything we do. Without their dedication and commitment, we could not provide our current level of service.
“If anyone feels they would benefit from a call, please do get in touch.”
To book a catch up call
Call: 01642 383041
Email: [email protected]
To volunteer with us
Call: 01642 383933
Email: [email protected]
More information is also available on our volunteer webpage.