When age really does matter (#767)
The Hunter and Northern NSW Youth Cancer Service commenced in December 2011 as part of the Youth Cancer Networks Project. The primary focus of the service is to address the psychosocial needs of 15-25 year old patients with a cancer diagnosis and their family members. The team consists of a Paediatric/Adolescent Oncologist, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Clinical Psychologist and Social Worker who work closely together to provide an age appropriate multidisciplinary service.
It has been identified that this age group needs more attention at diagnosis due to different age related; complex developmental needs which need to be addressed sensitively. Young people with cancer have often gone under the radar, so this service hopes to link patients with relevant referrals, improve accessibility to timely treatments and reviews and improve psychosocial supports.
The team has actively worked to establish the service, provide relevant information and educate key health workers about the physical, psychosocial and practical needs of this age group. The team conducts comprehensive psychosocial assessments and addresses the complexities of the issues that are identified. The team is accessible, free and located in a regional oncology hospital, and is promoted to multiple cancer streams and health sites across the Hunter and Northern region of New South Wales.
The service has been positively received by both health professionals and patients and their families. The team has been increasingly consulted and referred patients at time of diagnosis. Interventions have been multi-layered and been linked to increased treatment compliance, health literacy and patient ownership regarding their treatment. The positive feedback highlights the need for an ongoing specific adolescent and young adult team.