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BPS offers psychological guidance for cancer services impacted by Covid-19

09 July 2020

The psychological effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on cancer patients and healthcare professionals are expected to be serious and long-lasting. We've produced guidance to help healthcare professionals working in psychological services for people with cancer to prepare for what's next.

It is vital that cancer services working to catch up on delayed care consider the psychological impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on patients and staff as part of their recovery planning.

To support them through this challenging process, our Faculty for Oncology & Palliative Care, part of the Division of Clinical Psychology, has published new guidance for healthcare professionals working in psychological services for people with cancer, or who are receiving palliative care, who are preparing for what might come next for patients and staff.

The guidance provides useful support and advice to help address the important issues services are facing so that they can plan their recovery. These include:

  • An expected increase in the rate and severity of distress experienced by cancer and palliative care patients and their families, contrasting with a reduced rate of referrals;
  • Mental and physical exhaustion faced by staff working in cancer and palliative care;
  • The psychosocial limitations of socially distanced healthcare;
  • A prolonged period until healthcare services ‘catch up’, and the expectation of further waves of Covid-19 infection and disruptors.

Julia Faulconbridge, vice-chair of the BPS Division of Clinical Psychology, said:

“With patients dealing with the impact of issues such as the vulnerability a cancer diagnosis can create, the fear of infection from Covid-19, treatment disruption and concern for their loved ones, it is understandable that their wellbeing could suffer.

Alongside them are health professionals who may be sharing similar concerns, as well as potentially experiencing potential mental and physical exhaustion, dealing with the challenges of caring for patients at a distance and handling further disruption to their roles.

It is clear that there are common human factors that affect both parties and we hope this guidance will help support all those involved with planning psycho-oncology and palliative care and help progress their services’ journey of recovery.”

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