AN EVENT later this month focused on women and cancer could help open up new avenues for accessing services and support within Dumfries and Galloway.
The Women and Cancer Afternoon Tea in Stranraer on January 24 is seen as the important first step in establishing a new network for women affected by the illness, and their families.
It will feature guest speakers including a top cancer specialist, and will set out the ambitions for the new structure.
Crucially, it will also focus discussions on how new communications technology could help address challenges around attending medical appointments and how it might open up access to greater support.
The project is being led by the community of Wigtownshire women affected by cancer, with support being provided by Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership as an example of good local co-production.
Chairwoman Penny Halliday said: “Thousands of women across our region will be affected by cancer at some point in their lives.
“And while we’re fortunate to have terrific medical services and staff within Dumfries and Galloway, there’s still more that could be done to improve the experiences of those who are affected.
“One of the biggest challenges we face as a region is our rurality, and the distances people often have to travel in order to attend appointments and access support.
“A key thing we’ll be looking at is how new communication technology such as the NHS’s Attend Anywhere system might be able to help reduce the need for so much travel, including that which often takes people outwith the region for appointments with consultants.
“We believe technology also has the potential to help open up access to meaningful local support, or ‘Digital Befriending’ – which could be a real help to those people living in particularly remote areas.
As a former member of the Macmillan Cancer Scottish Involvement Group, and having spoken about her own experience with cancer, Penny said: “Within all of this, we’ll be looking at the role peer support can play, and about opportunities for women and their families to share their experiences.
“We’ll also be looking at how we collect information, how we can help keep people informed around developments, provide ways for them to feed back on their experiences so as to help improve services, and how we can help direct them to access new resources as they become available.
“To this end, we’d really encourage anyone who has an interest in this area to attend the Women and Cancer Afternoon Tea at Craignelder Hotel on Cairnryan Road, Stranraer, from 2 pm to 4 pm on January 24.”
The event on January 24 will set out work to date within these areas.
It will introduce NHS Attend Anywhere by linking up with a clinician, showing the applications for this technology in relation to appointments but also around befriending.
Guest speakers will relate their experiences, and the latter part of the Afternoon Tea will engage all participants in answering three questions – helping to provide feedback, suggestions and information.
Delivery of the tea itself is being kindly supported by the mPower programme – which looks at making best use of technology to support older people with long-term conditions.
Anyone interested in attending is asked to contact Susan McKie of the mPower programme by emailing email@example.com or phoning 01776 707731.
The event takes place at Craignelder Hotel on Cairnryan Road, Stranraer, from 2 pm to 4 pm on January 24.