Brain Tumour Project

Austin Health partnered with Hume RICS to implement a regional clinical support network between Goulburn Valley Health / GV Hospice and the Austin Brain Tumour Support Service.

Background

The Austin Health Brain Tumour Support Service commenced in July 2008 when the Brain Tumour Support Officer was employed via an initial one-year grant from the John Cummins Memorial Fund (JCMF). This funding enabled the development, implementation and evaluation of a supportive care program for people diagnosed with brain tumours and their carers/families at Austin Health.  With a further grant from JCMF and a recent bequest to Austin Health, the employment of the Brain Tumour Support Officer has been able to continue.

The diagnosis of a malignant brain tumour is still a relatively rare occurrence, representing 2% of all cancer diagnoses in Victoria (Victorian Cancer Registry, Cancer Council Vic). Despite this, the supportive care needs of patients, families and carers are significant and often distinct from other forms of malignancies. The literature discusses the complex challenges and the vulnerability of patients diagnosed with brain tumours and their carers, due to the physical, cognitive, emotional and social consequences of having a brain tumour and the poor prognosis associated with it (Osoba et al, 2000).  Monika Janda et al (2008) found that unmet supportive care needs related to changes in mental and thinking ability, uncertainty about the future and the associated high levels of psychosocial distress. One of the drivers for the development of specialised supportive care services was an acknowledgement of the particular support needs for patients diagnosed with primary malignant brain tumours and their families.

 

Aim

The key objective of this project was to investigate, design and implement a regional clinical support network for health professionals, who are likely to have contact with people diagnosed with malignant brain tumours. 

Austin Health, in collaboration with Hume RICS, aimed to ensure that health professionals have up to date information on supportive care needs & strategies for working with patients and families, current treatment issues & clinical trials, and resources to support carers/families and direct care services. A communication and peer support network was established between health professionals.

 

Outcomes

Outcomes for consumers:

  • Regional based patients with brain tumours have improved access to supportive care and information resources appropriate to their needs.
  • Brain tumour patients have improved access to health professionals who understand and are better resourced to manage the particular needs of this population.

Outcomes for providers:

  • Health Professionals have had the opportunity to enhance their knowledge and resources in the area of care and support of patients with brain tumour and their families
  • Establishment of a peer support network for regional health professionals, enhancing opportunities for debriefing, support, resource sharing, and shared program delivery

Outcomes for the system:

  • Development  of an internet based resource for use by regional and remote health services providers
  • Improvement in communication and information sharing between health networks in the care and referral pathways for regionally based consumers
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