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The Royal Marsden first to offer mental health app for teenagers and young adults living with cancer



Patients and clinicians from The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust have collaborated with Careology to develop an app to support teenagers and young adults during cancer treatment.

The Royal Marsden will provide teenage and young adult (TYA) patients who are undergoing cancer treatment with access to Careology’s patient-facing app to support their health and emotional wellbeing.

Funded by The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, the app will provide access to a wide range of content specifically tailored for the needs of young people.

It will include information on the topics identified by young people as most important to them including managing symptoms, fatigue, body image, food and nutrition and mental health support, specifically around dealing with anxiety.

The content has been codeveloped by 16–24-year-old patients and their clinicians. For each theme, a representative from The Royal Marsden’s TYA Youth Forum was paired up with a clinician, such as a lead nurse, occupational therapist, or nutritionist, to ensure information is both accurate and appeals to a young person going through or recovering from treatment.

This content will complement information from Trekstock and other charities, also available through the app.

Emma Thistlethwayte, teenage and young adult lead nurse at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are so pleased that the Careology app will enhance the psychological support available to our teenage and young adult patients at The Royal Marsden.

“Being diagnosed with cancer at a young age is life-changing, and it affects people emotionally as well as physically.

“A number of our young patients are referred to our psychological support service, which is funded by The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

“We wanted to provide further mental health support to them through every stage of their diagnosis, treatment and beyond, and Careology’s solution enables exactly that.”

She added: “Incorporating the patient voice was very important to us, and the tools and resources in the app will support and empower patients to contribute to their own emotional wellbeing and overall health.”

Symptom tracking features within the Careology app enable the young person to record the symptoms and feelings they are experiencing.

As a result, they are shown personalised and age-specific content including peer to peer advice, poems, tips, articles and recipes.

Careology’s digital cancer care app was specifically chosen by The Royal Marsden’s Youth Forum following a review of many different app providers, who each presented to the group.

Lauren Merry, 21, who is a member of The Youth Forum at The Royal Marsden helped to develop content for the app by writing top tips for other young cancer patients.

Lauren was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2015 when she was only 14 years old. After relapsing a couple of years later, she was treated at The Royal Marsden’s Oak Centre for Children and Young People.

She went on to get the all-clear in December 2017 and now helps to support other young patients who are going through their own cancer diagnosis through the Youth Forum.

“We should all be looking after our mental wellbeing anyway but with a cancer diagnosis, it’s something that becomes even more important,” she said.

“As something which has been co-developed by young patients who have been through a cancer experience, I think it will make a huge difference in supporting other young people and making them feel less alone. If you’re having an ‘up’ or a ‘down’ day, it will provide articles that support you.”

Paul Landau, CEO of Careology said: “We’re really pleased to have been chosen to be part of this special project with The Royal Marsden.

“Going through cancer at any age is incredibly tough but when you’re young and missing out on school or social activities it’s especially hard.

“It’s been great to be able to codesign and develop the app in a way which specifically works for this group of patients at The Royal Marsden.

“We want every young adult who uses the Careology app to feel more informed and empowered with access to digital support whenever and wherever they need it.”

Careology plans to share the content in the app with other hospitals wishing to help TYA cancer patients.

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