Cancer supportive care

Supportive care aims to improve the quality of life for people with cancer, their family and whānau through support, rehabilitation and palliative care.

Every year, about 29 percent of deaths in New Zealand are attributed to cancer and around 20,000 people are diagnosed with the disease.

A cancer diagnosis brings a range of anxieties, including emotional and financial strain. Support from everyone around the person with cancer, including the providers of cancer services, is crucial.

The Ministry of Health has developed an approach to improve access to high quality supportive care services for all people affected by cancer.

Guidance for Improving Supportive Care for Adults with Cancer in New Zealand was published in March 2010. It provides clear objectives and best practice approaches for all organisations involved in funding, planning, policy and programme development, and delivery of cancer supportive services.

An implementation plan was finalised in 2011. Priority actions identified in the plan include developing a national framework for supportive care which would define how and when people are assessed, and would better integrate the eight components of supportive care.

The eight components of supportive care are:

  • information resources
  • interpersonal communication
  • psychological support
  • social support
  • complementary and alternative medicines
  • support for living long-term with cancer
  • spiritual support
  • coordination of care and support.

The supportive care priority actions have been integrated into the National Cancer Programme. Please see the Cancer Nurse Coordinator Initiative and the Cancer Psychological and Social Supportive Initiative for more information.

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