Cancer Council Victoria’s Support Services and Clinical Network [Interview][Transcript]

Katherine_Lane_Cancer-Council-Victoria-Cancer-Information-Support-ServiceGuest: Katherine Lane
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest Bio: Katherine is a qualified oncology nurse who has worked across various hospitals and cancer settings over the past 9 years, including acute inpatient oncology and palliative care, out-patient chemotherapy and apheresis. Katherine heads a team of 13 experienced oncology nurses to deliver first line support to almost 11,000 people affected by cancer every year. Katherine and her team are responsible for providing social, emotional and practical support to those who use the service as well as triaging people back to local services within the community. A large portion of their work also involves the implementation and delivery of supportive care in cancer research initiatives. They are also responsible for supporting Cancer Council Victoria employees and volunteers who may also be impacted by this disease.

Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, let us welcome Katherine Lane, Nurse Manager of Cancer Council 13 11 20 in Cancer Council Victoria’s Cancer Information and Support Service. She would be able to speak about Cancer Council Victoria broadly, who they are and the breadth of work that they do, their support services and the fact that they rely on clinician referrals and their clinical network. Cancer Council 13 11 20 is a telephone service for information and support. They also have Cancer Connect and Gene Connect programs which are free phone based peer support services provided by trained ‘peers’ to a person who has received a similar cancer diagnosis and is undergoing the same treatment; or who has an increased genetic risk of cancer and is undergoing similar preventative treatment decisions.


Health Professional Radio – Cancer Council Victoria – Cancer Information Support Service

Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. My name is Wayne Bucklar and today I’m joined by Katherine Lane from the Cancer Council Victoria. Katherine is joining us from Melbourne. Welcome to Health Professional Radio Katherine.

Katherine Lane: Thank you for having me.

W: Now Katherine we’ve had a chat to various people from the Cancer Council over the years, but tell us your role there is as a Nurse Manager?

K: That is correct. So my background is an oncology nursing myself, I was previously working in hospitals in at day oncology units in across all areas as cancer care. I’ve been with the Cancer Council now since 2011, my role started on our information and support line, our Cancer Council 13 11 20 line. In the last couple of years I moved in to managing the service here, which is a different role for a cancer nurse but it’s a great one.

W: Now Katherine talk to us a little bit about that the role of nurses who live with the telephone based information and support, what do they do?

K: Sure. So our information and support line sits within the cancer information and support service here at Cancer Council Victoria. So as most people might know Cancer Councils around the country are mostly concerned with research, prevention and support. So obviously our information and support line is within the support realm. We have a whole range of support services that are available to people who call and they will be answered by a qualified oncology nurse here in Victoria. The number is national so people listening in other states can also access the service and all the people that do answer the phone will have a background on oncology and here in Victoria, they are nurses. And the nurses are predominantly there to answer any questions that people might have about cancer and that can range right from the beginning at cancer prevention or cutting your cancer risk or that can range from people who’ve just been diagnosed and then wanting to know about the health system or how to manage their treatment or what questions they should ask their healthcare team. It can go through to speaking to family members who are looking to support someone who’s going through diagnosis, health professionals wanting to know what other supports are available for their patients outside of their clinical setting. And we do rely heavily on health professionals out in the community to know about our services and to assist us in referring where appropriate. And it can range all the way through to bereavement palliative care questions. Really any question that you can think of in relation to cancer, we’ve probably had it come through the phone line.

W: Now you have a peer support mechanism as well I understand?

K: That’s correct. It’s called our “cancer connect to program” and it’s a program that’s based around, it’s a free telephone support program and it’s for anyone who’s been affected by cancer. The program started with peer support one-to-one via telephone for patient. So what we do is we match people as closely as they would like to be regarding their situation. So for example if you’ve got a gentleman with prostate cancer whose been given a couple of options for treatment and he’s wondering about what that actually means and how he might cope with that, we can link them with could train volunteer who’s been trained by Cancer Council Victoria to deliver this support. And the volunteers will only speak about their own experience, they’re not there to give medical advice or to give an opinion, they’re simply there to be a person at the end of the phone who can say “I’ve been through this, this is what I found, this is what I wish I had known and these are the things you might like to think about when you’re coming up to making a decision” and that just one example. But we have a whole realm of volunteers across many, many different cancer types and situations that we can match people with. So whether they’re wanting to know about how to manage talking to their family members about their diagnosis or talking to children or whatever the situation might be, the program then also has volunteers who are carers of people with cancer. So it’s our Carer Connect to Program or Our Family Connect to Program. And we also have people who has potentially been diagnosed with the genetic risk or high risk family history in their experience. So people can speak to someone about what it’s like to live with that increased risk of potential cancer diagnosis or what it’s like to live with caring for someone with cancer, so that one-to-one peer support has been researched and proven to be very effective. And researchers here at Cancer Council Victoria have actually looked at peer support and its role in reducing people’s distress and it’s been found that it is one of the most effective ways to reduce a person’s distress when they’re dealing with cancer diagnosis.

W: I can certainly understand how that would be very supportive. Katherine I was surprised to read on your website that you offer some other services that hadn’t crossed my mind like Pro Bono Legal Financial and Workplace Advisory Services. Can you tell us a bit about that?

K: Sure. I think one of the things that we often forget sometimes as health professionals is that it’s not just about coping with the cancer diagnosis and what that means emotionally and physically. A lot of the time the calls that we get coming through our phone line are around people who are needing help or assistance with the more practical issues that come out of the cancer diagnosis. So with that is their financial impact is having that diagnosis on themselves and their family, having to stop work, how to communicate with their workplace, or potentially re-entering the workforce after a cancer diagnosis. So that’s where our pro bono programs come into play, the service is managed by Cancer Council Victoria on behalf of all the other states, and within that we have four elements. So there is a financial planning, referral service, a legal referral service, the workplace advisory service which is HR professional helping people with return to work and we also have a small business advice service. So the legal and financial services are fairly self-explanatory but what’s important to know is that it is as you mentioned a pro bono service, so we have trained professionals in these areas that are then helping people free of charge on their issue. The Workplace Advisory Service are HR professionals that are then managing people’s concerns in that area. And the Small Business Advise Service as you can imagine people who are running their own businesses or who are part of small businesses and are wanting to know how to handle dealing with running a business or potentially winding down a business or putting a business on hold while their going through treatment or supporting someone with cancer. So those programs really complement I guess the psychosocial and the other supportive care programs that we have, as I say we do know practical support and practical issues are one of the biggest concerns that we hear from people when they’re giving us a call.

W: And I know Katherine you also deal with people after they finished treatment in your healthy living after cancer program, how does that fit in?

K: Yes. So this is, actually it’s a research project that’s funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council and it’s been running collaboration with the University of Queensland and that there are Four Cancer Councils participating around the country. And this program is designed to people who finished curative treatment for their cancer, they can still be going through maintenance treatment, but to the people who were there I guess the aim of their treatment was a curative intent and for those who didn’t have a metastasized cancer. So what it’s looking at doing is I guess we hear again from a lot of people who are at the end of their treatment and wanting to know how they can I guess return to what we’ve like to call the new normal and how they can get back to some of the things that they were doing prior to the diagnosis coming up. So it’s delivered by trained nurses and healthcare oncology health professionals via phone and it’s up to 12 coaching calls over a 6 months period. And it’s designed at getting to work with people ‘About what are your goals for your health and your lifestyle?’ ‘Are they more diet related?’ ‘And they exercise related?’ Or ‘Are they a combination of both?’ There’s a preprogram assessment to obviously see where a person is before they enter the program and then from there the person works with the Cancer Council staff member to set some goal, they work through a workbook that’s been designed and created by qualified oncology dietician and exercise physiologist. And the Cancer Council staff member works them through that in a structured way, … calls over time with a taped call schedule so that hopefully by the end of the 6 month period that person’s gained some confidence and some independence to then go on and continue to manage those healthy living and lifestyle goals at the end of the program.

W: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. My name is Wayne Bucklar and I’m in conversation with Katherine Lane, Nurse Manager at Cancer Council Victoria. Now Katherine many of our listeners will be clinicians of one kind or another, we get across the board in both acute care and in aged care particularly. Now I understand you have a clinical network at Cancer Council Victoria, can you fill us in about how that works?

K: Sure. So our clinical network was established way back in 1976. And that the clinical network is I guess you would say a peek representative sort of oncology forum within Victoria that consist of over 600 health professional from a range of different specialty, so they maybe oncologist or surgeons, allied health professionals who all volunteer their time to create this network. And what it really aims to do is improve clinical care and patient outcome through a range of sort of cooperative measures to optimize cancer management and care in the state. It’s really based on best practice and evidence based cancer care and it develops a shared advocacy agenda within Cancer Council Victoria and supports and improves clinical trial activity as well. It consists of a broad state wired representative committee and an executive committee and 16 cancer sites and … specific advisory subcommittee. So it’s quite a large body and they do often run within the committee different health professional and networking professional development and networking events. They contribute to obviously our clinical trial areas or if we’re needing a clinical professional advice on creating a resource publication that we need to have that reviewed by an expert. There’s really a whole bunch of things that they aim to do but I guess as I said the main ones are really around supporting evidence based and best practice cancer care, also to advocate for improvement in cancer care within Victoria and also to support that clinical trial research within the state as well.

W: Now Katherine do you line referrals from clinicians for patients?

K: Absolutely. I know with 13 11 20 which as we mentioned before is the phone number here or our information and support line here at Cancer Council Victoria, we really do rely on the health professionals within the community to know that our services exist and at the very least if we don’t expect health professional out there to know about every single little thing that we offer, but what we do say to people is if you can’t remember nothing else from listening to interviews like this one or reading about us or seeing our publications out in the health community, the most important thing to take away from those is that 13 11 20 number because at the end of that as we’ve said is oncology nurses who are there to help and make those referrals and to complement the work that busy oncology health professional are doing out in the community to complement our work into I guess fill in some of the gaps that you know that can’t be filled within a clinical setting.

W: Now that phone number again was 13 11 20. And I guess the website is the best place for people who looking for further information it’s Katherine Lane Nurse Manager with Cancer Council Victoria thank you for your time today, I certainly do appreciate your making yourself available.

K: Thank you, it’s been a pleasure.

W: If you’ve just missed my conversation with Katherine, the good news is we have a transcript on our website. We also have an audio archive both on YouTube and SoundCloud and you can access both of those resources at Thank you for listening to Health Professional Radio, my name is Wayne Bucklar.

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