Supportive care refers to services required by those affected or impacted by cancer. It includes among other things information provision, symptom control, self-help and social support, psychological and spiritual support, rehabilitation, palliative care and bereavement care. Supportive care activities in cancer can be broadly defined by the following five categories:
• Physical needs;
• Psychological needs;
• Social needs;
• Information needs; and
• Spiritual needs.
Supportive care can be optimised through routine screening and follow-on referrals to appropriate treatment and care services. Members of the multidisciplinary team as well as family members, friends, support groups, volunteers and other community-based organisations can all play an important role in a cancer patients’ supportive care.
Benefits provided by Supportive Care for those affected by cancer include:
• A positive impact on experiences of patients by reducing levels of anxiety and depression, better managing physical symptoms and increasing patient knowledge of the disease and treatment;
• Improved medical outcomes through better adherence to treatment including faster recovery, fewer post-hospital complications, enhanced self-care and greater ability to cope with difficult treatments; and
• Enhanced decision-making, active participation and care and improved patient satisfaction with care.
Source: Department of Health, Victoria (2009): Providing optimal cancer care. Supportive care policy for Victoria. There are many support services available to access.
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