Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest: Kathryn Huntley
Guest Bio: Kathryn has worked at the Foundation for nine years, offering emotional and practical support to blood cancer patients, carers, and their families. Prior to joining the Foundation she worked as a haematology/oncology nurse in Brisbane and the UK.
Segment overview: In today’s segment, listen to Kathryn Huntley as she shares helpful information about the Leukaemia Foundation of Queensland. It is the only Queensland charity dedicated to improving the lives of patients with all types of blood cancers, including leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. The Foundation wants more people to survive a blood cancer diagnosis and go on to live a full life. They are committed to investing in research projects which focus on improving patient outcomes and providing free support programs which aim to reduce the emotional impact of a blood cancer diagnosis. The Foundation does not receive direct government funding and relies on the generosity of the community to support our vision to cure blood cancers and support patients when they need it most.
Health Professional Radio
Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. My name is Wayne Bucklar and my guest today is from Queensland, from Leukaemia Foundation of Queensland, Kathryn Huntley the Support Services Coordinator. Hello Kathryn and welcome to Health Professional Radio.
Kathryn Huntley: Thank you and thank you for having me.
W: Our pleasure. Now Kathryn, I guess I can assume given the name that your footprint is Queensland, Australia. Do you go outside that at all or is that the tight constraints of your organization?
K: No. The Leukaemia Foundation has support service coordinators based throughout every state and territory in Australia as well with similar services in those areas. Sometimes there’s a little bit of difference depending on how sort of the blood cancers are treated. So in Queensland obviously, we’re quite centralized in places like Brisbane and in Townsville so we have a big focus on accommodation. Whereas down in Victoria, they’re spread out so transport is a big part of what they do as well.
W: So you have an Australia wide footprint. Do tell us what is it that the Leukaemia Foundation does? Give us an insight into the organization.
K: So the Leukaemia Foundation sort of started because patients felt like there was more that they could have had for them to make a difference to their journey – for wanting for a better word. So the fund raising started to sort of make changes and build accommodation and be able to do things that make a difference in the grand scheme of things. We put money into research but at the moment, how can we impact on people who are having treatment or facing the diagnosis and their families and reducing that impact. Whether it be emotional support, we’re all health professionals so there might be helping patients with their advocacy in their treatment. It’s also looking at outside the bubble of treatment, what we can do to make and prepare that journey a little bit smoother so practical assistance with transport and accommodation, financial assistance. So we do sort of household bill cover while people get things, helping them access into link and sort of disability insurance and that sort of things that they may not know that they had.
W: It sounds like it’s a very broad scale of patient support?
K: It is and quite often when I meet patients I start to say “what we can do for your as an organization is actually defined by the individuals” so we’re in a unique position where we can think outside the box and how and what our support looks like because every person walks a different path and nobody plans for these things, so that’s sort of what were about even. So with high paying jobs and when that income gets taken away, that in just a dire need as those that don’t have any sort of income support and that sort of thing. So it’s open to everybody with a blood cancer and how what our support looks like, it’s dependent of where they’re at and what matters most to them.
W: Now how do people get to you? Are they referred formally through the health system or can they self-refer?
K: Yes to both. So our referrals do come through sort of health professionals that we have sort of are spent our time with and are aware of our services. We also get people who will actually Google and those sorts of things, find out about us and call our 1-800 number and that would take them to the each state relevant office. And then we also have a lot of the times we get people who’d already had contact with our services that will then refer other people within the hospital so there’s patient to patient referrals that come because people feel that it is, we’ve had made a difference and want those in the same position to experience it as well.
W: Now Kathryn you mentioned your 1-800 number. Just to make sure we get in the transcripts to note available to people on our website, what is that number?
K: So 1-800-620-420 and as I said, that’s all throughout Australia and they’ll be directed to each relevant state office depending on where they’re calling from.
W: Now I can just imagine people scrambling for their pencils now so I’ll say it again, it was 1-800-620-420 and if you’d miss that time as well, it will be in the transcript on the Health Professional Radio website if you are looking for it. So people, Kathryn, consulted further that and been directed to that number, do you do a lot of work with clinicians to connect them into your services?
K: Yes. We’re obviously health professionals ourselves, so we attend to a professional development as well as conferences and that sort of thing that give us opportunity to meet with patients. And I have colleagues that just recently are here in Queensland. We have the new children hospital so sort of we are establishing ourselves out there with the amalgamation of the two children hospitals we have in Brisbane. So our time is spent to the linking in with those people and identifying the key people who are in the best position to identify those who would benefit from our services.
W: You’re listening the Health Professional Radio and if you just joined us, I’m in conversation with Kathryn Huntley, the support service coordinator the Leukaemia Foundational of Queensland. We’ve been chatting about the services that are offered in the way that people can connect with it. If there was one misconception about the organization with patients or with clinicians that keeps you awake at night and drives you nuts, what would that be Kathryn?
K: I’m actually gonna give two. And the first one would be that because we historically known as the Leukaemia Foundation, there’s a misconception that we only support patients with the various types of leukaemia’s but we do cover all the blood cancers, including those lymphoma, myeloma, MDS, NPN and other related blood disorders. And I’ve got another concern that we have about our misconception is because we have the accommodation facilities and we do get referrals for patients for accommodation, that we are actually available to all patients whether they live in metropolitan areas or have to travel to come to treatment. That our services available to all those diagnosed and their families and loved ones with those blood cancers.
W: You must spend a lot of time awake at night with two of the misconceptions like that.
W: They sound like pretty serious issues so the historical name does tend to distract people from lymphomas and myelomas.
K: Yeah and I guess that’s a part of why we spend time making sure that we are trying to get that out both through networking refer to help clinicians and professionals as well as sort of hoping that we get that brand awareness out to the public arena.
W: It’s an endless process for education and I have to confess that one of my big misconceptions was that if you worked in health, you knew all about health. But in fact, so many people are quite compartmentalized and don’t have that around us so we hope some of our audience take that message on today. Kathryn it’s been lovely having a chat with you. We hope that having a word with Health Professional Radio connects you with some of those clinicians and maybe clears up some those misconceptions. Is there a website people can go to get more information?
K: Yep. We have in Queensland a website www.leukaemiaqld.org.au and those listening outside Queensland can also go to www.leukaemia.org.au.
W: And professionals can on the website, find connections points there to link into the organization, and better understand the services available for their patients and their patient’s families that need support.
W: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio. My guest today has been Kathryn Huntley, Support Service Coordinator for Leukaemia Foundation of Queensland. A transcript of this interview and a sound archive are both available at www.hpr.fm. This has been Wayne Bucklar on Health Professional Radio.