Sunflower seeds sent through the post are just one of the many ways that the Macmillan Information and Support Service in West Lancashire has been supporting shielding cancer patients.
The seeds were sent out to 86 vulnerable patients to let them know that the Skelmersdale-based service was thinking of them, helping them feel connected and providing a wellbeing boost.
This was on top of a range of practical steps implemented by the team from their unit in the Concourse Shopping Centre. Throughout Covid they have maintained almost 1,000 contacts with patients.
Caroline Flynn, Macmillan Information and Support Service Manager said: “We’ve supported with referring for food deliveries, applying for Macmillan Grants for financial support and helping people to access digital platforms such as Zoom to ease isolation, but the simple little sunflower seeds have truly brought the widest smiles to people shielding.
“The arrival of seeds in the posts with a little poem to cheer them up made people feel that somebody out there truly cared about them.
“Even though the shielding lockdown is going to be eased there will still be many cancer patients who do not feel confident about going back out into the wider world. They are going to require our ongoing support for some considerable time.
The Macmillan service hosted by Virgin Care contacted all West Lancs cancer patients on their caseload to ascertain:
- If they have received the Covid-19 shielding letters. If not – they registered them on the gov.uk website and provided guidance.
- If they were socially distancing, and did they require support for shopping, prescriptions etc. They registered them with the council for ongoing support and food parcels.
- If there had been a financial impact on the person and whether they were eligible for accessing benefits via Citizens Advice
- If they would benefit from a tablet device through the IT isolation scheme which provides free devices and ongoing support
Throughout Coronavirus the team has kept in regular telephone contact with patients, offering virtual health and wellbeing sessions, support groups, signposts to virtual adult learning classes, and encouraged patients to support one another through Whatsapp groups and social media.
The sunflower seeds which were sent with an uplifting short poem were clearly the icing on the cake of a raft of exemplary support – and were hugely appreciated by patients.
Comments from recipients included:
“I’ve just received the sunflower seeds, thank you. Really put a smile on my face, how thoughtful you are.”
“Thrilled to have received the sunflower seeds. It has brightened my day. I feel really uplifted.”
“The postman delivered me a lovely surprise today. What a gorgeous thoughtful thing to do. I’ll plant them and watch them grow. Thank you both you are little stars.”
“Can I say a huge thank you for the seeds. What a fabulous thought had a little cry. I am ever so grateful and promise to plant them.”
The West Lancs Information & Support Service remains open for advice via telephone, text, email or skype Monday to Friday 9am-4pm (closed bank holidays). Contact Caroline or Jodie on 01695 402 164 / 07551 122 125