For many of our clients, navigating cancer alongside Covid-19 restrictions has been difficult. Isolation, says supportive care nurse Jo-Anne Reid, has been one of the biggest challenges during this time.
“Some people have felt the sense of separation quite strongly. It’s been a challenge for people who haven’t been able to have a support person with them at appointments or visit them at the Cancer Society’s Lions Lodge.
“During alert levels 3 and 4, guests have been confined to their rooms. The sense of camaraderie at the Lodge is one of its most powerful strengths, so they’ve missed out on sharing common experiences with each other.”
While some things had to change at the Lodge because of restrictions, what didn't change for guests was the overall spirit of manaakitanga and support.
Jo-Anne, like all our supportive care nurses, helped mitigate the feelings of isolation by increasing welfare checks and encouraging regular contact.
“It’s about staying connected as much as possible through whatever means you can. We’ve referred clients to counsellors – not everyone needs that, but there’s been a higher need for those kinds of services.”
Jo-Anne adds that another common challenge has been anxiety.
“This has been significant. It’s the cumulative effect – the sense of being isolated or not being able to do the things that would normally distract a person or make them feel better.
“We’ve spent a lot of time sharing strategies to help manage anxiety. All the tips are things you can do at home, like going for a walk or ideas around creativity, and just encouraging people to be more conscious of it.
“We’ve also got a number of resources around relaxation, deep breathing and mindfulness, and we’ve connected people with webinars on topics like stress and improving sleep.
“Taking on board some of those online resources can help people cope. But if you’re having a difficult day, please call us. All the nurses tend to say ‘reach out - I’m just a phone call away.’”
Call 0800 22 77 44 to get in touch with our supportive care team.
Watch our coping with cancer video sessions.
Listen to our series on mindfulness and relaxation.
Taking on board some of those online resources can help people cope. But if you’re having a difficult day, please call us. All the nurses tend to say ‘reach out - I’m just a phone call away.'Jo-Anne Reid