Southmead Hospital's NGS Macmillan Wellbeing Centre celebrates six months of supporting people with cancer

Thursday, 26 March 2015

The NGS Macmillan Wellbeing Centre at Southmead Hospital is celebrating six months of supporting people with cancer.

The centre opened in September as a partnership between North Bristol NHS Trust and Macmillan Cancer Support.

Since it opened its doors more than 500 people have dropped into the centre for advice, information and support while a few hundred have attended more than 40 Living Well Days and courses that have been held at the centre during the first six months.

It is Bristol’s first Macmillan Wellbeing Centre, providing a resource for people living with and beyond cancer, their family and friends.

The NGS Macmillan Wellbeing Centre at Southmead Hospital Bristol which has now been supporting people with cancer for six months

There is an extensive library of information leaflets covering different types of cancers, dietary advice and tips for dealing with symptoms. The centre can also provide details of relevant support groups and activities.

There are Living Well Days, courses and workshops, a dietitian clinic along with Macmillan One-to-One sessions and Citizens Advice advisors.

Walking groups, craft workshops and breathing meditation are also offered through the centre. Look Good Feel Better Masterclasses are run for women with cancer, giving them make-up tips to help lift their spirits while undergoing treatment, while complementary therapies and yoga will soon be available at the centre.

And for carers there are support sessions.There is an extensive library of information leaflets at the NGS Macmillan Wellbeing Centre, which has been open for six months

At the heart of the centre there is a large kitchen table where tea and cake is served, giving a homely feel for those who are dropping in and people attending the many sessions. The NGS Macmillan Wellbeing Centre, inside the refurbished Beaufort House on the Southmead Hospital site, was designed to be welcoming and comfortable with a non-clinical feel, providing a different environment from the many medical appointments they are attending as part of their treatment.

The centre is run with the support of a team of more than 20 volunteers ranging in age from 17-80. Some of them are based inside the centre, helping the people who visit, while others bake the cakes that are offered to those who visit or tend the gardens.

Feedback from the hundreds of people who have used the centre during its first six months has been positive and it has been found to be a valuable resource for GPs and Clinical Nurse Specialists to refer their patients to.

NGS Macmillan Wellbeing Centre Project Manager, Helen France, said the first six months at the centre have been an exciting time.

“Sometimes on a busy day I will just stop and look and see the people coming in and out of classes or workshops we are running, those having a cup of tea and eating cake and I think, this is exactly how it was supposed to be and I am proud of what we have achieved as a team.

“We are providing a space where people can come and be and talk and it makes so much difference - the feedback we have had is so positive.”

A room at Southmead Hospital's NGS Macmillan Wellbeing Centre which has now been open for six months

Macmillan Development Manager, Maggie Crowe, said: “It is wonderful to see the NGS Macmillan Wellbeing Centre at Southmead being so well used, making a real difference to the lives of local people affected by cancer.

"More people are living longer with cancer, which is good news, but they often need support to live as well as possible which is why a centre like this is so vital.

“I would like to congratulate Helen and her team of volunteers for ensuring that the service has had such a good beginning.”

North Bristol NHS Trust’s Lead Cancer Nurse, Carol Chapman, added: “Since its opening six months ago I am delighted to see that the NGS Macmillan Wellbeing Centre has already become the hub for the provision of information, advice and support to cancer patients, their relatives and colleagues both in the hospital and also in the community across Bristol and beyond.

“This is a tribute to the hard work, dedication and huge amounts of enthusiasm of Helen, the centre manager, our cancer support workers and volunteers.”