Cancer Carers Not Receiving Adequate Training

A Report Released By Macmillan Has Found Some Cancer Carers Aren't Receiving Adequate Training

18.10.2013

A new survey released by cancer charity Macmillan has shown 53 per cent of carers have not received information, instruction or training from health professionals.

With cancer incidence rising and the life expectancy increasing across the UK, the role of informal carers has become more important in recent years, but without a standardised training structure in place, some people have struggled to cope.

Macmillan asked 2,004 cancer carers and found 22 per cent perform health care tasks that include changing dressings and infection control.

This is extremely risky and with only half of carers trained by nurses, the lives of both the patient and care administer could be put at risk by poor hygiene and improper equipment usage.

To combat these issues, Macmillan has urgently called for the Care Bill currently making its way through parliament to ensure carers are given enough training by nurses.

Some 63 per cent of cancer carers that didn't receive training said this meant they felt distressed and 50 per cent admitted to being frightened and overwhelmed by the task ahead of them.

A further 34 per cent claimed their lack of knowledge could leave their patient in hospital, while just over ten per cent said this has occurred in the past.

Pamela Digney, who looks after her husband Roy, 75, who has cancer, commented: "My husband is paralysed from the waist down from his operation, so I have to help him with everything. I have to administer morphine patches and liquid morphine for pain relief, as well as help him with his catheter. Infection control is also a constant concern."

Mrs Digney's experience is far from isolated and Ciaran Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support said carers give a huge portion of their time to those they love and are the "backbone" of society.

But without support their patient is at risk of developing secondary health problems and this must be addressed by the government as soon as possible.

Expert Opinion
Carers play a vital role in the lives of so many people but it is absolutely critical that they get the tools and support they need to ensure they are able to offer comprehensive and quality support.

“This research raises serious concerns that they are not getting this, so we would urge the Government and health authorities to do more to ensure that this issue is tackled urgently.

“The safety of patients always needs to come first and it is vital that quality training ensures carers have the ability to provide the high standard of care often needed by cancer sufferers.”
Lisa Jordan, Partner