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A greater focus on supportive care

There’s a new face gracing the halls of Cancer Care Nova Scotia. Marianne Arab is our new and first Manager of Supportive Care. Marianne brings a wealth of experience to the role from her previous position as BereavemeMarianne Arabnt Coordinator at Capital Health.

Supportive care is critical to ensuring patients and families receive optimal treatment and care.  “Supportive care touches on every aspect of the lives of our patients and their families – on how cancer impacts us physically, emotionally, practically, spiritually, and psychologically,” says Marianne. “Quality supportive care is needed at all points in the cancer journey.”

“What’s most important to remember,” she notes, “is that everyone’s journey is different and the times when they are most in need will differ. That is why it’s essential to let the patient identify what kind of help they require and when they require it.”

Some supportive care needs are very practical.  Transportation, for example, is a significant issue.  “An elderly individual, who lives in Windsor, may need to come to Halifax for 35 radiation treatments.   The concerns attached to this are huge: the cost of gas, the cost of parking, the physical strain of traveling every day,” explains Marianne. 

Other supportive care needs include emotional support, symptom management, providing relevant information, crisis intervention, and counseling. The range and depth of these services are at the heart of CCNS’s decision to focus more broadly on supportive care in its fullest sense.

That decision is built on a pillar of strength: many palliative care supports are now in place across Nova Scotia – as a result of hard work and collaboration of many: Department of Health, district health authorties and Cancer Care Nova Scotia. This includes CCNS’s Palliative Care Frontline Education Program that is offered in every district to all health care professionals and volunteers; the program has also become the provincial standard of palliative care education for all continuing care assistants and licensed practical nurses. In addition, a palliative care volunteer program has resulted in the standardized training of volunteers across the province; and the Department of Health has recently appointed a manager of palliative care in every health district.

“Probably one of the biggest accomplishments has been government’s additional investment in palliative care through the hiring of a provincial palliative care coordinator to help develop and oversee the implementation of a province-wide palliative care program,” notes Marianne.

“As Manager of Supportive Care, Marianne will work to evolve and expand the portfolio previously known as palliative and supportive care, with the goal of reaching out to more Nova Scotians and their families,” says Theresa Marie Underhill, CCNS’s Chief Operating Officer. “This new position reflects the value we place on developing a more formal and standardized Supportive Care Program across the province.”

“Our vision is to help Nova Scotians and their families access the help they need in the way they need it,” says Marianne.  “In this position, I hope to help create a program that makes it easier and more effective for us to provide the kind of whole-person care patients and their families want and deserve.”