Trust creates support group for patients with oesophageal and gastric cancers

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust has created the first hospital based support group of its kind for patients with advanced oesophageal and gut cancers. The group provides peer to peer support for patients  offering both practical and emotional support for this patient group, and is available to all patients with Upper GI cancers (oesophageal, gastric, liver and pancreatic cancers) who are being treated with palliative intent. 

Oesophago-gastric clinical nurse specialist Susana Moreira Martins Do Rio founded the support group after patients asked her why there was no dedicated forum for palliative care patients suffering with these cancers. 

After doing some research Susana found that the support for patients with Upper GI malignancies was either online or targeted at patient’s recovering from surgery and felt there was a missed opportunity to provide support, in a group format, for those who are, for whatever reason not eligible for treatment with curative intent. Susana therefore decided to create a group that would offer this service.

Since the group started in April the numbers of attendees has continued to rise. It currently meets twice a month to discuss subjects relating to the physical, emotional and mental wellbeing of the patients under the leadership of a psychologist. 

Susana said:
“Palliative care is about helping to maximise a patient’s quality of life during their remaining time. 

“The support group helps the participants to know they are not alone in their situation and that other people are going through the same things as they are. 

“It is clear that it has made a positive difference to my patients and that inspires my colleagues and I to continue to find new ways to develop the care we offer our palliative patients.”

Susana, whose role is to ensure patients are getting the adequate emotional care and support throughout their pathway, hopes to explore with other trusts the possibility of extending the group to include outpatients in nearby areas.

A patient who attends the group said:

"I have never considered myself the type of person who would go to a “support group” and was therefore quite reluctant to attend – I am so glad I did. 

"The group gives you a safe environment to share and explore the emotional impact of what you are experiencing with others in the same position, along with the opportunity  to exchange practical ideas of how to manage some of the difficulties that you inevitably encounter on a day to day basis when suffering from these types of illnesses."

To find out more about the Advanced Cancer Upper GI support group, contact Susana Rio and or 02033130303.