Calvary Mater cancer app

A cancer diagnosis usually leaves people in a state of shock – unsure what to do or where to turn.

In a world first, Calvary Mater Newcastle has unveiled a new cancer app, CANcierge, to give patients and their family a ‘roadmap’ to follow on this distressing journey.

Launched on 4 February to coincide with World Cancer Day 2019, CANcierge provides easily accessible, relevant and reliable information on cancer care at Calvary Mater, the major cancer care centre for the Hunter New England Local Health District.

Medical Oncology Staff Specialist, Associate Professor, Craig Gedye said the app was inspired by the experiences of cancer patients treated at the Calvary Mater Newcastle. “Being told you have cancer is a life-changing moment, where you are transported to an unexpected place. The CANcierge App provides a concierge to help people living with cancer navigate this unplanned detour in their lives.”

Calvary Mater, Oncology Nurse Practitioner and CANcierge Project Lead, Gillian Blanchard said there were good sources of general information available about cancer and treatment, however, specific details were lacking. “Professor Gedye was being asked questions he didn’t have the answers to, which made us realise something was missing,” Ms Blanchard said. “We recognised that members of our community wanted specific information about how cancer treatment and support is delivered to them where they live – Where do I go? How do I find the clinic? Who can help me solve each problem?”

 The app, which has already been downloaded over 200 times, allows users to access an abundance of information in one convenient place.

Ms Blanchard said where to park and where to eat were questions regularly asked by patients and this information was now available via the app along with a wealth of other local content.

“This app has been designed by Calvary Mater Newcastle patients, carers and staff allowing these questions to be answered and the desire for 24/7 information to be met,” she said.

The largest population of Aboriginal people in NSW reside in the Hunter New England Health District and the app provides specific services and resources to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples affected by cancer related illnesses. “We have worked very closely with the Aboriginal community on this and believe the app will be an important part of the ‘closing the gap’ initiative,” Ms Blanchard said.

The Calvary Mater Newcastle Auxiliary provided the $70,000 required to create the app plus a yearly amount on an ongoing basis to keep it updated. “Aside from donating a significant amount of money, the Auxiliary also engaged patients with focus groups to ensure it’s exactly what they wanted,” Ms Blanchard said. “We are extremely grateful for the Auxiliary’s support, without their assistance this App couldn’t have been developed.” 

Users can record vital information; make note of members on their treating team; find helpful support information; access information about chemotherapy and other treatments; access information about the range of services, amenities and support services at Calvary Mater Newcastle and access a range of community groups and services.

The CANcierge App can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store or Android Google Play.

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