The Youth Support Co-ordinator (YSC) service during lockdown
Youth support coordinator at The Christie, Angie Burns
At the proton beam therapy centre at The Christie, Youth Support Co-ordinators (YSCs) provide a range of social and emotional support to young people aged 13 to 24 undergoing treatment. This includes activities at the proton beam therapy centre such as pool, air-hockey, PlayStation, arts and crafts, and games and puzzles. There is also additional support at Stay City Apartments in Manchester, with 2 nights a week offering pizza and games nights.
YSCs support young people both during and after treatment for up to 2 years including 1:1 support, hospital-based workshops, support groups and residential opportunities.
COVID-19 brought the whole YSC service to a standstill. Young people were required to shield and were isolated even further from their normal environments and peer support. This had a serious negative impact on their wellbeing and mental health.
The YSC team, with the support of The Christie and Teenage Cancer Trust, very quickly developed a safe online programme for young people to participate in, requiring young people to ‘sign up’ to engage in the online service.
Alongside continuing individual support via text, phone calls and online sessions, the programme has included body image support groups, lads' nights in, magic events, quizzes, games nights, ‘An Evening With…’ events (featuring celebrity guests and motivational speakers), music tuition, arts and crafts workshops, careers guidance and information events regarding mental health, exercise and nutrition.
Some of the online youth support co-ordinator activities during the COVID-19 pandemic
The service developed by the YSC team at The Christie has given young people structure to their week, opportunity to meet others, gain support and — most importantly — have some fun at a very challenging time.
Socially-distanced activities for our teenage and young adult patients
During lockdown, we’ve been helping our teenage and young adult patients stay busy. While our younger patients haven’t been able to meet up in the same way they’re used to, we’ve made sure they could still have some socially-distanced fun.
Our Teenage Cancer Trust youth support coordinator, Angie Burns, has been keeping our TYA patients entertained while they wait for treatment each day. Activities have included balloon making, origami and journaling. You can see a few photos below of some of our patients’ creations.
As well as this, Angie has been running regular online quizzes for patients so they could get involved remotely. These quizzes let patients continue to socialise with each other during their treatment.
Welcome to our youth support coordinator Angela Burns
The proton beam therapy team would like to welcome Angela Burns, youth support coordinator to the team.
Below Angela describes her background and talks more about her role in the proton beam therapy service:
"Since graduating with first class honours in youth and community work, I have been employed as a youth support coordinator (YSC) here at The Christie and as an Outreach YSC covering the North West region. Currently I am working at the proton beam therapy centre, offering practical and emotional support (alongside other proton team members) to young patients, aged 13 to 24 years and their family members and carers.
"My role here is to encourage patients to use the young persons lounge whilst waiting for treatment (the lounge has a TV, gaming, magazines, books, games and arts and crafts materials) as well as a games room, located on the 2nd floor with TV and music, pool table, table-tennis and air hockey.
"The YSC service is supported by Teenage Cancer Trust (TCT). Part of this service provides workshops and activities for patients to participate in. Currently, we are providing online support sessions such as: quizzes, 1-to-1 music lessons, creative sessions, games nights and magic and origami sessions.
"You will find me on hand in the proton beam therapy centre offering the YSC service, getting creative, doing the quiz, playing games or just having a cuppa and a catch up! I'm always happy to help.
"My working days are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. However, our YSC Team is available to contact Monday to Friday. We welcome thoughts, ideas and feedback from all young people with regards to things that would be beneficial whilst having proton beam therapy treatment."
COVID-19 pandemic updates
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, our staff at the proton beam therapy centre at The Christie have been very busy ensuring that our patients are as safe as possible.
We have put measures in place such as temperature checks for all staff and visitors to the hospital, and all our staff will be wearing face masks.
These measures allow us at the proton beam therapy centre at The Christie to continue to deliver high quality care for our patients.
Annual Radiotherapy Conference 2020
The College of Radiographers Annual Radiotherapy Conference lets therapeutic radiographers discuss and share issues within radiotherapy. It is an opportunity for them to share their research, audits or service development projects with the wider UK therapeutic radiography profession.
Therapeutic radiographers, David Roberts and Lucy Davies had the opportunity to present their findings on patient verification and the immobilisation of patients in proton beam therapy.
David Roberts said: “It was the first time either of us had presented to a large audience so was a great learning experience.
"It was interesting to learn what others are researching and had many conversations about the developing technology and practices in other departments.”
Following the radiotherapy conference, David and Lucy will be attending European Society for Radiation Oncology conference (ESTRO) to share their research with the European community of oncology professionals.
The Christie proton school courses in February and March 2020
The Christie proton school is a partnership between the proton beam therapy centre at The Christie and The Christie School of Oncology. It delivers high quality, evidenced based-learning, focused on service development and delivery.
In February and March, we are running some courses at The Christie proton school. These are:
- The Christie proton therapy course: 15 to 19 February 2020
- The Christie proton centre and service development course: 20 to 21 March 2020
Read more about the courses we offer at The Christie proton school.
Proton Therapy Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital
Claire Burgess and Rebecca Benson (therapeutic radiographers from the proton beam therapy centre at The Christie) had the opportunity to attend the Proton Therapy Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, Ohio.
The proton beam therapy centre at The Christie has recently celebrated its 1 year anniversary and this trip allowed Claire and Rebecca to gain valuable knowledge from the American site as we continue to advance our practice and expand the service. International collaboration allows the team to gain a deeper understanding of other centres experiences and apply this knowledge to our own department.
The Proton Therapy Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital opened in October 2016 and is on the same site as the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital (Liberty Campus). This is one of the top rated paediatric hospitals in the United States. The proximity of the proton therapy centre to this well-respected hospital allows them to provide excellent support services directed specifically towards their paediatric patients.
Both the Proton Therapy Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital and the proton beam therapy centre at The Christie share the same technology and are of a similar size. This means that the practices and advancements in both sites are easily shared and translated.
The team in Cincinnati were extremely kind, welcoming and willing to share their experiences. Claire and Rebecca learned a tremendous amount during their one week with them and really enjoyed their positivity and the warm environment they create for patients and staff alike.
Both radiographers were delighted to be provided with this wonderful opportunity and will use it to continue to work with the wider radiotherapy team here at The Christie, as we continue to strive to be leaders in cancer care.
Proton beam therapy team visit to Maastricht
The annual ‘Proton Friends Symposium’ (European Proton Therapy Network Meeting) took place in Maastricht, The Netherlands in early December. 3 members of our proton beam therapy department had the opportunity to visit The Maastro Clinic and found it to be a very beneficial experience.
Matthew Redfern (treatment floor representative), Hannah Robinson (patient pathway representative) and Melissa Bentley (pre-treatment representative) had the following to say about the Symposium:
“It was wonderful to catch up with our European colleagues who have shared the experience of recently opening proton beam therapy centres throughout different countries. We each fed back our progress and learning curves, thus benefitting the departments who are yet to open. It was great to hear the reactions of other centres on our hard work so far and we all shared our knowledge on a range of aspects within proton beam therapy.
"The information we gathered at the Symposium will be fed back to all staff at the proton beam therapy centre at The Christie, which could also help us to improve the level of care we deliver to our patients. We look forward to next year’s event!”