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Support Group Spotlight: Liverpool Haematology Support Group

written by

Leukaemia Care, Charity

  • Magical mystery tour 4

The Liverpool support group started in March 2004. We’ve just celebrated our 13th anniversary with a dinner dance at the community centre, where we meet each month.

I have been a nurse counsellor in the Haematology department at the Royal Liverpool Hospital for over 14 years, and I trained as a nurse in 1972 at the Royal Southern Hospital, which no longer exists.

I started the support group at the request of a young patient who had attended a support group in the Christie Hospital in Manchester, where he was diagnosed. At the time, he was a student. He moved back home to Liverpool during his treatment and asked for a support group to be set up.

I approached Leukaemia CARE, who agreed to back our request and offered financial and administrative support. I then drew up a questionnaire which was sent to patients and the response was excellent.

Our first meeting was held at the Royal Liverpool Hospital in the board room in the Trust office, after which, at the patients’ request, we found a venue off-site. The group was totally centred around education, information and peer support, which is still the case today. However, over the years, a social component was introduced too.

I have always led the support group and ensured that the group remained open, friendly and welcoming to all patients. I am aware of the fear, lack of confidence, and how hard it is for patients who have suffered a haematological condition to make the first move in attending a support group. I always ensure new patients are welcomed and that they are introduced to other patients who have a similar condition.

I get a lot of pleasure attending the group. It’s great to witness patients grow in confidence and to take on roles within the group, as well as helping out with the different events we have each month. I tend to know all the patients, their condition and where they need encouragement to take on a full and active role within the support group.

We have had great fun over the years and organised lots of activities. We’ve had loads of support from the medical staff, nurses, pharmacists, dieticians and other colleagues from the Royal Liverpool Hospital, whom I can’t thank enough.

It’s really good to see patients who have made it through the grueling treatments and bone marrow transplants. I often feel very humble and amazed at the courage and strength our patients have. I love working together in partnership with the patients and carers to ensure the group happens each month.

Sadly, some patients have passed away, but they’ve left us legacies because they received so much support and made friends within the group, which has been a lifeline for some of them.

We still have a couple of patients who were at the first meeting attending the support group today. Quite a few patients in the group have been coming for many years, but new members are always made to feel welcome.

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