In an effort to minimise risks of COVID-19 for vulnerable cancer patients, the Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN) launched the ‘Home Based Cancer Therapy’ program, providing chemotherapy for cancer patients in their own home.
The service has been unanimously well-received by patients and minimises their exposure to high-risk settings and as well as their burden of travel.
Quality care for cancer patients
For Brian Garner, who has multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer, the program has been a welcome initiative and alleviates concerns about entering a high-risk environment such as a hospital.
“Because I’m immunocompromised, I feel much safer at home during COVID-19,” he said.
While being safer from a COVID-19 perspective, the program also eliminates the burden of travel for patients and their family or caregivers.
“Having chemo at home now has made quite a large difference for us because we don’t have to rush around getting ready, battle traffic, find a carpark, and battle traffic home,” he said.
“It takes a lot of pressure off [my wife] Gail.”
For Catherine White, Registered Nurse at the Cancer Day Centre, the change of environment as had clear benefits for many of the patients.
“A lot of our patients get quite stressed coming into the hospital because it might remind them of their diagnosis. So having treatment at home reduces a lot of their anxiety,” she said.
“Lots of patients are really happy, and it’s nice to see them relaxed. We also see improvements in their blood pressure because they’re not getting quite as stressed coming into a hospital.”
On the road
The ‘Home Based Cancer Therapy’ program consists of two nurses on the road, each treating up to seven patients per day and covering upwards of 100 kms. For eligible patients, the service includes all the usual treatments they would otherwise have at the Cancer Day Centre.
From a hospital perspective, the program is neither a cost-saver, nor an efficiency booster.
“It’s really a quality initiative for the patients,” according to Leeanne Naaraat, Nurse Lead for cancer program at CALHN.
“We have highly specialised cancer nurses within our program. They want to provide the best care that they possible can for their patients.”
COVID-19 safety or traffic aside, the program offers a unique experience for both patients and staff.
“It doesn’t matter who comes along, we [already] know them. They’re all great – they’re like family,” said Mr Garner.
“I absolutely love doing ‘Home Based Cancer Therapy’ – it’s definitely my favourite role within the Cancer Day Centre. It’s nice to get to know the patients a bit better in a relaxed environment,” said Ms White.
Providing world-class care for patients, whether in the hospital or at home, is a driving vision for CALHN and is at the heart of the Home Based Cancer Therapy program.
“’Home Based Cancer Therapy’ is providing world-class care by allowing patients in the public sector to receive care that’s similar to the private sector,” said Ms White.
“It allows patients who couldn’t afford the [program] through private industry the opportunity to have it through the public sector which is really nice for them.”
“Having ‘Home Based Cancer Therapy’ is much more convenient, much easier, and we’re very grateful for it,” concluded Mr Garner.