The Cancer Experience Program

At Carley’s Angels, it’s always been about access. Access to the integrative cancer treatments that patients need, when they need them and where they need them. Every patient's journey is different and so every patient's access to treatment is different. We are determined to ensure that all cancer patients have access to the integrative cancer care they need. 

Introducing the Cancer Experience Program at The Princess Margaret Cancer Center, funded by a $300,000 gift from the Carley's Angels Foundation.

↓ Watch the program launch below ↓

 

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Cancer Experience Program

Creating equal and inclusive cancer care 

The Princess Margaret is one of the top five Cancer Centres in the world and an internationally recognized leader in advanced research and exceptional care for cancer patients and their families. With many award-winning programs, including Patient Education and Survivorship, their mission is to improve the lives of cancer patients across Canada and around the world. 

Their priority is to elevate the experience of our patients, while ensuring cancer care is inclusive, diverse, equitable and accessible for all. To give these goals the visibility, commitment and resources they deserve, Dr. Gary Rodin was appointed as the first Director of The Cancer Experience Program at University Health Network (UHN) last November. Dr. Rodin brings considerable experience in uniting diverse groups in Psychosocial Oncology, Palliative Care, Cancer Rehabilitation and Survivorship, and is currently implementing new ideas at The Princess Margaret Cancer Center, such as the Cancer Experience Program. 

The Cancer Experience Program has an overarching goal of improving the cancer experience for all patients by creating equal accessibility and a more inclusive experience through a three-part strategy, two of which are fully funded by Carley's Angels.

1) Health Equity: Gathering more comprehensive data about diversity among patients at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. 

2) Supportive Communication: Developing a Communications Skills Training tool to improve awareness and communications skills among Cancer Centre staff, helping them to better communicate with a diverse group of patients.

1) Health Equity 

One of the greatest challenges that remains in cancer care is ensuring equal access to all. Despite having a public healthcare system, access to cancer care is not the same for all Canadians. People who have greater health literacy, more education, a primary care physician, and other means have better outcomes when it comes to their cancer. The first goal in their strategy to achieve equal and inclusive cancer care involves understanding the demographics of their patients and the needs of specialized groups who have barriers to access a cancer treatment centre or who struggle to navigate their way through their cancer experience. Information about burden of disease and treatment, psychosocial risk factors, cultural diversity, age, gender and sexual orientation and other special needs must be collected to identify gaps in cancer care and create more specialized and inclusive services. Understanding the patient demographics at The Princess Margaret Cancer Center is a fundamental first step in the Cancer Experience Program, and this full year of data collection will be entirely reliant on our philanthropic support.


2) Supportive Communication 

The next component of ensuring equal and inclusive cancer care at The Princess Margaret Cancer Center is the development of an online Communications Skills Training (CST) tool for staff. Clinicians must learn to support patients, to build rapport and to convey adequate information in a timely fashion.  

They must be able to break unfortunate news to patients in a sensitive and empathic manner and to manage the distressing emotions that such news can evoke in patients, families and themselves. However, while intensive and standardized training is provided to clinicians and trainees in almost all other aspects of medical care, many clinicians have received scant training in communication.

CST has been shown to increase the capacity of health care providers for empathic listening, for establishing collaborative relationships with patients and families, and for attending to the individual needs of patients based on such factors as age, gender, culture, language, and health literacy.  

Communication skills are especially important at critical stages in the cancer trajectory, such at the time of diagnosis, when important treatment decisions are made or when bad news must be delivered. From a patient perspective, effective communication has been shown to increase satisfaction with care, reduces distress, promote faster recovery and improves quality of life. However, throughout the world, such training is currently not available routinely or systematically for health care providers in cancer care or other medical conditions.  

An online and interactive state-of-the-art program in CST has the potential to establish excellence in  communication as a standard of care at The Princess Margaret Cancer Center and beyond. Online CST for The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre staff will enhance awareness and improve skills in communication with diverse patient groups at all stages of the disease trajectory. It will include modules related to cultural safety and the needs of specific patient groups, including adolescents and young adults (AYA).


 

Three-Year Plan from Dr. Rodin

The first year of the CST strategy be dedicated to content development, which will be informed by a diverse patient advisory group to ensure the tool is fully inclusive. In the second year, a digital platform will be developed and the tool tested for patient-friendly usability.  

The final and third year of development will include a clinical trial to determine the effectiveness of the CST tool on improving the patient experience for diverse groups at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. 

Each component of the program will include annual quantitative and qualitative KPI’s that will measure the impact on patients. 

 1 Ahmed, S., & Shahid, R. K. (2012). Disparity in cancer care: a Canadian perspective. Current Oncology, 19(6), e376. 2 Timothy Gilligan., et al. (2017). Patient-Clinician Communication: American Society of Clinical Oncology Consensus Guideline.  JCO: Journal of Clinical Oncology, 35(31):3618-3632. 

Licqurish, S. M., et al. (2019). Tools to facilitate communication during physician‐patient consultations in cancer care: An  overview of systematic reviews. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 69(6), 497-520.

 


We’ve had a lot of learnings over the last 2 years from the Psychosocial Oncology fellowship program with SickKids and there has been a lot of success. We know that integrative cancer care is the path forward however we can’t keep funding these incredible programs until we know that every patient can access to them.

To learn more about our debut program The Psychosocial Oncology Fellowship at SickKids please click below

 


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