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Sky diving not yet available! Creating a FIT club

Creating a FIT club: fight it together for cancer patients in Chirk in North Wales
Why was the initiative launched?
What was done?
Is it working?
Tips for success
To find out more contact

Creating a FIT club: fight it together for cancer patients in Chirk in North Wales

Why was the initiative launched?

A problem for the Chirk locality management team in 1998 was the high incidence of patients with cancer and the heavy workload this was imposing on the staff of the hospital and community. Ways were needed to respond to this challenge whilst working within the resources available.

What was done?

A series of multi disciplinary discussions were arranged to explore how existing resources could be adapted to improve benefits to patients. These included hospital and community professionals, Macmillan nurses, potential users, relatives and carers. Two key points from the Calman Hine report guided them:

'The development of Cancer Care Services should be patient centred and should take account of patients, families and carers views and preferences as well as those involved in cancer care. Individuals' perceptions of their needs may differ from those of the professional. Good communications between professionals and patients is especially important in this area.'
'The impact that diagnosis and treatment of cancer has on patients, families and their carers. Psychosocial aspects of cancer care should be considered at all stages.'

The main conclusion from these discussions was the merit of providing a palliative day care service at the day hospital facilities at Chirk Hospital.

An important part of subsequent discussions to get the day centre established was a multidisciplinary and multi-agency meeting. The local Macmillan nurse played an important role in enabling patients to contribute to the discussions. Patients were in no doubt about what they wanted, and what they did not want. From the patients' perspective they needed a safe, friendly environment, to be listened to, to be treated with respect, to have the support of other patients and for the service to be both a drop-in centre and provide day care.

The group suggested the name for the centre the FIT Club; - Fight It Together Chirk Cancer Club. People attending would be known as members irrespective of whether they were patients, carers or their children.

Fight it together - Activities available
Coffee and a chat Hairdressing
Horse riding Information
Massage Manicure
Painting Relaxation
Reflexology Swimming
Tai Chi  

While the initiative gained widespread support, there were initial apprehensions about the nature of the proposed approach. To help overcome these, managers arranged a series of educational and training events. Professionals were also encouraged to attend courses at the local hospice and other cancer specialist units. Greater knowledge led to more confidence that the new service could be provided and would help.

Is it working?

The FIT club first opened its doors on Wednesday 9 th September 1998. It was a step into the unknown for staff and members. Although ambulance transport had been arranged, on day one most members used their own transport. They could not wait! The day was a first for some staff. It was the first time they did not wear uniforms and the first time they had experienced this kind of service.

FIT – fight it together
New members: September 1998 to March 1999
Patients 35
Carers 37
Children 14
Ages of members: March 1999
Ages Numbers
0-16 14
17-40 18
41-60 23
61-80 29
80+ 2
Attendance: September 1998 to March 1999
Members 824
Professional 73
Others 42

Soon after the club was established, the members decided that they needed a committee to run the club. It now publishes a regular newsletter to help spread the word - to give news about coming events and to include articles by members. The committee has been able to secure support from local businesses. A variety of activities are now available, but as the club leaflet says, 'sky diving not yet available'.

There is a feeling of elation about how well the club has developed. Professionals recognise that they have learnt much and hope to continue learning as the club develops. Carers and relatives have benefited from being able to talk to others in similar situations. As one carer said 'This has greatly helped me to relax as a carer, and given me a really positive attitude to the situation'. And as one patient said 'I'd had half of my chemotherapy treatment by the time I first came to the club, so I was able to give reassurance to a fellow member who was just about to start her treatment'.

Tips for success

To find out more contact

Carole Davies
Hospital Manager
Chirk Community Hospital
Wrexham LL14 5LN
Telephone 01691 772430
Fax 01691 772342

A leaflet about the FIT club is available

ImpAct Bottom Line

Working with patients can be a learning process. Both professionals and patients learn from each other.


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