Wellness Centre services in demand

DESPITE COVID-19 restrictions forcing its closure for half the year, the Wellness Centre still managed to help hundreds of cancer patients in 2021-2022 through counselling, exercise and supportive care programs.

Thanks to donations made by generous individuals and organisations, the Albury Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre Trust Fund invested almost $270,000 in the Wellness Centre during last financial year.

This helped pay for a range of programs that support the emotional, physical and psychological needs of cancer patients and their families.

The highest attendance was seen in clinical psychology services, with 564 sessions provided. This was a 4 per cent increase on the previous financial year.

There were also 154 vouchers provided to patients and carers for services outside of the Wellness Centre, including massage (in Albury and Wangaratta), physiotherapy and dietetics.

Some programs were offered online to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions, and enable patients in outlying regions to take part without the need to travel.

This included nine of 22 participants in yoga, 16 who took part in a virtual Look Good Feel Better workshop, and a further eight people who completed an art therapy program.

The mindfulness program, attended by 21 patients and carers, was also extended to Albury Wodonga Health staff with 54 workers attending an evening class.

The Next Steps exercise program for patients who have completed their treatment attracted 26 participants, and a Caring for Someone with Cancer program was held online with five participants.

The Women’s Wellness group continues to run with good levels of attendance, however other support groups struggled for numbers during the pandemic.

Plans are in place to attract a greater number of patients and carers in group programs through initiatives such as “Get Your Ship Together”, a model ship building program, and also a knitting and craft group.

Volunteers returned to staffing the Brave Hearts Wig Library in May and are operating on their regular three days per week schedule.

Quilts, head coverings and crocheted blankets donated by the Quilting with Friendship Group and others continue to be distributed through the Wellness Centre and to the inpatient ward.

Wellness Centre Coordinator, Ben Engel, said the facility has a “solid range” of programs and services that are on par or exceed those offered by other Wellness Centres in Victoria.

“We hope to grow the number of patients and carers this financial year by trying out new programs, such as the four-week ship model building course for men,” he said.

“We also look forward to introducing a new exercise oncology program for patients during treatment and introducing a new online platform for people to access our services in the near future.”