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Cancer carers performing vital healthcare have inadequate training

Published on 14/10/2013

Nearly a quarter of a million carers tending to a family or friend suffering from cancer are responsible for vital healthcare tasks, according to research from Macmillan Cancer Support.

Some carers are performing injections

Important tasks such as controlling pain, giving injections and managing catheters were being carried out by more almost 240,000 of the 1.1 million carers in the UK. The 22% of all carers carrying out these task, more than half (53%) were doing so without information, instructions or professional health training.

The data comes from a YouGov survey commissioned by Macmillan Cancer Support and surveyed more than 2,000 carers across the UK. The charity is hoping these figures prompt more debate for the Care Bill legislation.

The findings also revealed that of those who received none or little training, 63% were left feeling distressed by the situation and 50% were left feeling frightened.

More than a third of carers were worried that their lack of training and subsequent poor care would result in their loved one being admitted and one in nine say their loved one had actually been admitted.

Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support Ciarán Devane feels the government should be doing more to help cancer carers as their help eases the workload on the NHS.

Devane said: “Cancer carers are performing clinical duties and give hours of emotional support and practical help. They’ve taken a huge responsibility out of love and duty and they are the backbone of our society.

Carers need our support and without it they can reach breaking point, which is not only bad for them and their loved one but is also costly to the NHS and ultimately the taxpayer.”

Some carers have been forced to call either the emergency services or a doctor for advice and support for caring for their loved one.

One carer, Pamela Digney, has been looking after her husband who is paralysed from the waist down following spinal cancer.

Ms Digney said: “My husband is paralysed from the waist down from his operation, so I have to help him with everything. I have to administer morphine patches and liquid morphine for pain relief, as well as help him with his catheter. Infection control is also a constant concern.

“I haven’t been given adequate training or information to help with these things, and it leaves you feeling quite vulnerable when you have to do them on your own.”

Health insurance can provide adequate and comprehensive cancer care and some policies will include home nurses to care and support you and your loved ones.

© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2013

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