Background 2100 people between the age of 13 and 24 are diagnosed with cancer each year. While 75% survive following treatment, those that do not frequently have advanced and aggressive disease. It has been recognised that people in this age group have unique physical, psychosocial and developmental needs which are not always identified or addressed. These include the need to establish independence; explore relationships and intimacy; and maintain normality through education and peer support.
Aims At Douglas house, we aim to provide a flexible palliative service for teenagers and young adults with cancer based in a hospice for young adults. The service seeks to provide age-appropriate, individualised care, working closely with both adult and paediatric oncology and palliative care teams. We recognise the need to evaluate the impact of this service robustly since its beginning in 2010 to ensure it is meeting previously unmet needs appropriately. Evaluation has included case history reviews; interviews with patients and potential patients; and audit of types of input and intervention that have been utilised, and their outcomes.
Conclusion The young people's palliative care team has been able to learn from the individuals who have come under our care. Support has ranged from provision of time away from hospital during oncology treatment; facilitating difficult conversations with professionals and parents; providing symptom control; enabling normality and independence through group activities; and input at oncology multidisciplinary meetings. Our experience has taught us the need to think creatively about ways to support an age group who do not always engage with services in conventional ways. This has enabled us to continue to address the physical and psychosocial needs of both the patients and their families.
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