emotional support for those living with cancer

Using technology to facilitate emotional support for those living with cancer

Oplift joined Macmillan at the L Marks Kaleidoscope innovation day on Thursday. We worked together with professionals from the Post Office, Emu Analytics and Avon to come up with our winning idea!

Did you know there are an estimated 2.5 million people living with cancer in the UK in 2015, rising to 4 million by 2030. One in three people with cancer experience mental or emotional distress. Up to 25% of cancer survivors experience symptoms of depression and up to 45% experience anxiety. But because of the constant demand on the NHS there is not enough care available for cancer patients to receive the professional mental health care that they need. We were tasked with coming up with a solution which would provide emotional support and ease the negative impact which cancer can have on people’s life.

Current technology used to help Cancer patients

If you, your family or friends are fortunate enough to not have come into contact with the disease. You probably aren’t aware of some of the great solutions which are already out there. Below are the top solutions which we learnt about in the session:

  • Chemowave – a free mobile health app to track symptoms, medications, steps and activities.
  • Jointly App – a mobile app that helps carers stay organised, connected and informed when looking after someone.
  • My Cancer Coach – An app which personalises your cancer care decisions. For those living with breast, prostate and colon cancer.

The issues

There are no solutions available which stop those people living with cancer from feeling lonely, anxious, isolated or like they aren’t emotionally supported.

Our winning idea

Our idea was an app called Care Circle which was centred around 5 main objectives:

  1. Allow the person living with cancer to let others know their mood in a very subtle way.
  2. Connect them to their friends and family, letting their close circle know what actions to take when they are feeling down or happy.
  3. Upskill and empower their friends or family with resources such as counselling advice, activities to do or when to make a friendly phone call.
  4. Send the person living with cancer a resource which would help or guide them.
  5. Use an algorithm similar to those on Spotify or Facebook. This was so that the patient and the close circle could let the app know their preferences of what they liked or did not.

How you can help

Cancer is a disease which no one can really prepare for. Help and support is vital for the person living with the disease and their carers around them. Emotional support is incredibly sought after when someone is diagnosed. Although the person may be looking for professional counselling or therapy. You can upskill yourself in how to provide support for your loved ones or work colleagues.

They say that talking to someone whos willing to listen (trained or not) is the best kind of therapy. Even if you can’t offer professional advice be there to listen and support. Check in on the people involved and offer your time to try and lift their spirits whenever you can. It sounds simple but it can do wonders for someone’s mental health at an incredible difficult time in their life.

Written by Hayley Lloyd

Published 23rd September 2019