As Patron of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, Her Royal Highness alongside Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham and representatives from the Greater Manchester Cancer Alliance, was introduced to a number of staff working on the specialist cancer programme, including members of Salford Community Leisure’s Prehab4Cancer team at Worsley Leisure Centre.

The Princess Royal was shown several demonstrations of typical prehabilitation assessments and interventions and heard first-hand the impact this programme is having on patients’ physical and mental wellbeing in the lead up to and after cancer treatment. She also heard how the programme adapted to a virtual delivery model during the Covi-19 pandemic to ensure patients awaiting cancer treatment continued to receive this support.

The service offers evidence-based cancer prehabilitation and rehabilitation, designed to improve clinical outcomes with increased survival rates and improved morbidity. It incorporates exercise, nutrition and wellbeing interventions, in order to:

  • Optimise people diagnosed with cancer prior to undertaking treatment (surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy)
  • Support enhanced recovery, including reducing the risk of complications and reducing time spent in hospital
  • Support mental wellbeing
  • Build a healthier lifestyle to live well beyond treatment

To date, approximately 2,500 cancer patients from across Greater Manchester have participated in the programme. This model is the first prehabilitation programme in the country to be delivered system-wide and at this scale. The service is planned to continue to benefit a wider patient population in the future.

Zoe Merchant, AHP Clinical Lead and occupational therapist by background, said:

“The Prehab4Cancer programme focuses on using participant’s engagement in positive occupations, primarily exercise, to optimise them for their cancer treatment and supports enhanced recovery following treatment with increased independence and quality of life throughout their cancer pathway.

“We’re delighted that Her Royal Highness has been able to visit and see the service first-hand today, to celebrate the knowledge and skills brought together by the range of healthcare and exercise professionals involved to deliver an impactful service to patients that enhances their overall outcomes and experiences.”

Tony Collier, a patient representative living with prostate cancer said:

“I am a massive advocate of the benefits of exercise – not only physically but also the positive impact it can have on your mental health, especially when dealing with the challenges brought about by a cancer diagnosis.

“I’m thrilled to see how successful the Prehab team have been to date and hope to see this approach adopted across the country in future to support even more patients to live well during and after their treatment.”

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said:

“Statistics now suggest that one in two of us will develop cancer in our lifetime, especially with many of us living longer, so it’s crucial to ensure that we focus not only on catching cancer early, but also that people are supported to live well both with and beyond cancer.

“I’m proud to see the collaboration that’s happened here in Greater Manchester and that this is now a model for best practice elsewhere to support our populations to continue to live well.”

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