Living with a life limiting illness can feel overwhelming, but you should still be able to enjoy a good quality of life during your illness. It is important to decide on some small achievable goals so that you gain confidence and maintain fulfilment and enjoyment in life.
Northern Trust staff are available to help you with a range of issues, for example, maintaining health and fitness, sorting out your affairs or emotional support. Additional support may be available from other sources such as Northern Ireland Hospice, Marie Curie Cancer Care and other voluntary organisations offering a wide range of services depending on your needs.
Physical activity and keeping active
Being more active can help with some of the side effects you might experience during an illness, such as fatigue and depression. You may find it helpful to get advice about physical activity and exercise regimes from a physiotherapist. A physiotherapist can help you build your physical fitness; improve your energy, strength, joint range, coordination and balance; manage the side effects of your illness or after-effects of treatment; enjoy and increase your physical activities and avoid injury.
Talk to your GP who may be able to arrange a referral for you to a physical activity scheme, if there are particular problems you need advice about.
Find out about walking groups in your area by contacting the Trust’s Health Improvement Service on 028 2563 5575.
Physical activity rehabilitation
The Trust’s Physical Activity Cancer Rehabilitation Programme is a free pilot initiative that takes place weekly at Coleraine Leisure Centre. The programme is open to patients with palliative care needs who are no longer receiving treatment for their cancer but want to maintain their fitness and wellbeing.
For more information or to book a place, please contact: Oncology Physiotherapist, Northern Health and Social Care Trust, T: 028 9442 4000 ext 332021
It is important for patients with palliative care needs to eat well and receive the right nutrition during their illness. The right nutrition can enhance your mood and ensure that you have enough energy to provide your body with the right fuel and nutrients.
Please speak to the dietician if you feel they could help you.
Managing everyday activities
Occupational therapy aims to help you with everyday activities e.g. getting dressed, managing the bath/stairs, leisure activities, getting out etc. The occupational therapist can look at what tasks you want or need to do and what makes this difficult for you. Intervention may include teaching new ways of doing activities, providing aids, equipment or adaptions, information and advice on managing symptoms such as fatigue, breathlessness and anxiety or referring to other professionals e.g. for practical support.
Please speak to your GP if you feel occupational therapy could help you.
Macmillan Information and Support Service
This Service enhances and supplements information already provided in areas such as transport, health improvement programmes, local support services available, finances, treatment and care.
Some patients with palliative care needs may prefer to remain at home but visit a hospice during the day. Hospices provide patients with the opportunity to access a range services and complementary therapies, allowing them to meet people, share similar experiences and take part in social activities. For further information, speak to your GP or health professional about this
Northern Ireland Hospice
T: 028 9078 1836
Marie Curie Cancer Care
T: 028 9088 2018
Macmillan Volunteer Service
The Macmillan Volunteer Service based at the Macmillan Unit in Antrim aims to enhance patient experience by complementing existing services within the Northern Trust.
- Specialist Palliative Care Inpatient Unit
Volunteers at the Macmillan Unit assist with offering a variety of services to people who are inpatients at the Macmillan Unit. These include complimentary therapy, hairdressing, mealtime companionship, ward visiting, manicures and pedicures as well as the opportunity to make a recording of their favourite memories on CD.
Where appropriate volunteer drivers offer transport for close family wishing to visit at the Macmillan Unit, and the offer of this service is also extended where required for patients visiting Laurel House for cancer treatment.
- Look Good Feel Better (Trust-wide)
Volunteer beauty therapists, in partnership with the charity ‘Look Good Feel Better’, offer workshops on a monthly basis to improve self-image, confidence and well-being. These workshops take place at Clotworthy House in Antrim and are open to people undergoing treatment for any sort of cancer and at any stage of their illness.
T: 01372 747 500 http://www.lookgoodfeelbetter.co.uk/If you would like to find out more about any of these services please contact the Macmillan Unit on 028 944 24394 and speak to the Macmillan Volunteer Coordinator.
There are support groups within the Northern Health and Social Care Trust area which offer support, reassurance and guidance.
If you would like more information about a support group in your area, please visit the Northern Trust Support Groups section of the website.
Preparing for the future
Planning for the future is about talking with the people closest to you about what you may or may not want to happen regarding your care and in the event of your death. Planning for your future care is important in case you ever become unable to make choices yourself, for example if you were to become unconscious or lose capacity (the ability) to make decisions about treatment.
Dying matters can help you address these sensitive issues. Dying Matters is an initiative created by The National Council for Palliative Care aimed at people approaching the end of their life And those people important to them. T: 08000 21 44 66 http://www.dyingmatters.org/
Commissioned by Dying Matters, ‘I Didn’t Want That’ is a poignant and powerful short film highlighting the importance of making your end of life wishes clear.
Released as part of Dying Matters Awareness Week 2012, the short film was created to act as a stimulus for changing the way the nation thinks about death. ‘I Didn’t Want That’ has been widely praised, and was chosen to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival.
Your life and your choices – plan ahead
Macmillan Cancer Support have produced a booklet which explains how you can plan ahead for your future care.
This booklet discusses creating a Lasting Power of Attorney, writing down how you would like to be cared for using a Preferred Priorities for Care document and writing Advance Decisions to Refuse Treatment. It also has information about making a will, organ and tissue donation, and funeral planning.
The document is available on the Macmillan website http://www.macmillan.org.uk/. Or please ask one of your health and social care professionals to give you an Advance Care Plan document.