Lymphoedema Project

Lymphoedema Projects were undertaken in the West and Border / East Hume Cancer Networks with the aim of identifying service models which would provide equitable and effective early intervention, support and treatment to people with cancer who are at risk, of or have developed, lymphoedema.

Background

Prior to this project, lymphoedema services provided to patients were mostly focused on the treatment of developed clinical lymphoedema rather than the early intervention and sub clinical screening of patients. It appeared that efforts towards improving lymphoedema services and/or access to those services appeared to have been mostly driven by the individual practitioners involved with patient care rather than by an organisational approach.

Outcomes

Some of the outcomes of the Lymphoedema Projects include:

  • A literature review was undertaken to help identify a service model to provide equitable and effective early intervention, support and treatment to people with cancer who are at risk of or have developed lymphoedema. 
  • The review also identified a number of factors from the patients’ perspective which have created barriers to accessing services which include:
    • the financial costs associated
    • stigma
    • body image
    • self esteem and lack of education
  • An assessment of existing services across the Border / East Hume catchment identified a disparity in the accessibility of publically funded lymphoedema services for patients. A number of reasons contributed to this including geographical area, local funding, acknowledgement of the condition and knowledge of services available by general practitioners.
  • A supporting application was submitted for a cluster coordinator for allied health assistants in the Border / East Hume Cancer Network.
  • A Lymphoedema working group was established at Goulburn Valley (GV) Health to improve the local lymphoedema service model.
  • Existing practitioners with knowledge and experience in providing lymphoedema treatment were identified and a list of local lymphoedema service providers in the Goulburn Valley was developed.
  • Guidelines for internal referrals for lymphoedema support at GV Health were developed.
  • Professional development and Grand Round sessions were facilitated in the West Hume Cancer Network to provide further education to health professionals.

On-going

Hume RICS will continue to support the established steering committees / working groups by providing on-going administrative support and direction in line with Victorian cancer planning initiatives. Additional support will also be provided by Hume RICS staff to support further education and professional development for health professionals in relation to lymphoedema.

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