On World Cancer Day 2022, Peter Mac is introducing a new training program for every single staff member, to provide greater focus on what matters to patients.

Research demonstrates the best cancer treatment and care is enhanced when patients can focus on “what matters to them” as well as “what is the matter with them”.

Safer Care Victoria and the Victorian Department of Health have provided $250,000 towards the Your Thoughts Matter training program developed by Deakin University’s Centre for Organisational Change in Person-Centred Healthcare.

Four patients and 24 staff members are being trained by Deakin University to deliver the program, with the aim of reaching all clinical staff members within 18 months.

Jo Hickman – a Your Thoughts Matter trainer, Peter Mac patient and a Nurse Unit Manager at another Melbourne hospital – said there was no doubt the way people are communicated with has a big impact on the way they feel, and how they respond to cancer treatment.

“In my experience as both a cancer patient and a nurse, a meaningful conversation and asking the right open-ended questions can make the world of difference for patients,” Ms Hickman said.

“It’s a privilege to be a champion for change in this space, and great to see a large institution like Peter Mac trying new ways to lift the standard of patient care.”

Peter Mac will be the first metropolitan health service in Australia – and the third in Australia – to implement the evidence-based training program across its entire organisation. In 2021, the pilot program was successfully implemented at Bairnsdale Regional Health Services and Wimmera HealthCare Group.

Peter Mac Chief Medical Officer Dr David Speakman said every staff member could play a part in making patients feel listened to and empowered to make decisions about their individual care needs and preferences.

“While the pressures from the pandemic are real, we can never take our eyes off what’s next, and improving the way each one of us communications with patients has the potential to make a big difference,” Dr Speakman said.

Professor Peter Martin, Director of the Centre for Organisational Change in Person-Centred Healthcare at Deakin University explains, “We know from the research that finding out quickly what is important for patients and their families completely transforms care. This approach is key for both clinical and non-clinical staff.”

World Cancer Day is noted globally on 4 February. See worldcancerday.org

About Peter Mac

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre is a world-leading cancer research, education and treatment centre and Australia’s only public health service solely dedicated to caring for people affected by cancer.