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New initiatives launched for Teenage and Young Adult patients at Velindre

Three polaroid photos are pinned. They show a group of fundraisers, wellbeing boxes, and the front of Velindre Cancer Centre.

21 November 2023

Two new initiatives have been introduced to improve the wellbeing and comfort of Teenage and Young Adult (TYA) patients receiving treatment at Velindre Cancer Centre.

A launch event took place in the family room and it was attended by the fundraisers who helped to raise money for the age-appropriate improvements, which will benefit TYA patients aged 15-24 both in the region and specifically at the ‘Hospital of Hope.’

The initiatives are: 

  • Wellbeing boxes containing items and resources to support an inpatient stay, including activities, books, puzzles, treats. These will be offered to patients on an admission and refilled regularly. 
  • Gaming systems for use by thyroid patients receiving radioactive iodine in isolation rooms to help reduce boredom and distract from the isolation.

The Matthew Walkin Make a Smile Foundation and Teenage Cancer Trust have provided valued support to the improvements.

Kate Morgan, TYA Outreach Clinical Nurse Specialist, said:

“Time in hospital can be disruptive, distressing and the days often very long. The game consoles and games are already in use and providing entertainment, distraction and help young people maintain some sort of normality.

“The impact on their emotional wellbeing has been very positive. One of the games consoles has specifically been provided to the patients undergoing radioactive iodine treatment for thyroid cancers, which involves up to three days in isolation to receive the treatment.

“Most patients feel relatively well during this treatment but there are very strict protocols as to what the young person can bring into the small isolation cubicles and no visitors are allowed. We've received very appreciative feedback from young people as to how much they've valued having the gaming consoles there to help pass the long hours.”

Around 2,300 young people aged 15-24 are diagnosed with cancer every year in the UK and there are at least 88 different subtypes of young people’s cancers. As young people’s cancer can differ to cancers in children and adults, specialist treatment is often needed for the age group.

Fundraisers from the Matthew Walkin Make a Smile Foundation, who made contributions to the improvements, said:

“The aim of Matt's charity is that, although it's impossible to make going through treatment any easier, we can help to take a patient's mind off what is happening and help make them smile whilst going through treatment.

“The foundation was proposed by Matthew Walklin who underwent chemotherapy at Velindre. Sadly Matt passed away in March 2012 aged nearly 28. The charity is his legacy, aiming to improve the support available to cancer patients, improving their comfort and welfare.”

The Teenage Cancer Trust funded Clinical Nurse Specialists Kate Morgan and Steph Smith, and Youth Support Co-ordinator Anna Davies have been rolling out an outreach service to TYA patients in South Wales, including at Velindre Cancer Centre.

TYA services are not yet commissioned in Wales, so the work they do is more important than ever in ensuring that no one gets left behind in their cancer journey. Initiatives such as the wellbeing boxes and gaming systems are instrumental in supporting teenage and young adults with cancer and wouldn’t be possible without the support of fundraisers.

Please visit the Teenage Cancer Trust’s website for more information.

Velindre University NHS Trust, Unit 2,Charnwood Court, Parc Nantgarw, Nantgarw, Cardiff, CF15 7QZ
Tel: 029 2019 6161