CLAN Cancer Support, which provides emotional and practical support and advice to people affected by cancer across the north-east, has announced the temporary closure of its Aberdeen bed and breakfast facility, while it makes safety arrangements.
CLAN Haven, the charity's 28-room accommodation facility, offers accommodation and relaxation for people attending cancer treatments at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI). The accommodation is primarily used by people who live far from ARI, and in particular those from Shetland and Orkney. During the temporary closure, the CLAN team will be making significant changes to the Haven in order to comply fully with social distancing and shielding requirements.
Despite the lockdown, CLAN Cancer Support is continuing to support people affected by cancer in Shetland, with dedicated local telephone support. The CLAN centre in Lerwick has closed temporarily in line with government and NHS guidelines, but anyone who is affected by cancer is encouraged to telephone for emotional and practical support and advice.
CLAN's Chief Executive, Colette Backwell, explained: "All charities are facing real difficulty during this pandemic, but at CLAN we are holding firm.
"We took the decision to close our centres in March to ensure the health and safety of our clients, staff and volunteers.
"Within a week of closing our centres, we set up telephone and video conferencing support, as well as a suite of online resources so that those affected by cancer can access support despite the lockdown. Our Shetland team has already taken almost 200 calls from people who have questions or concerns about cancer.
"As it is clear that the virus is not going away, we have decided to temporarily close our CLAN Haven centre in Aberdeen to allow us to review our operating procedures and to ensure effective social distancing is in place, and also to give us time to source the PPE we will need to protect the safety, health and well-being of cancer patients and our staff.
"Demand for CLAN Haven has declined dramatically in recent weeks, due to the change in treatment provision offered by the NHS during the pandemic, and whilst we await the resumption of NHS cancer treatments and the subsequent greater requirement for CLAN Haven, our team is working hard on making significant changes.
"People undergoing cancer treatment are required to shield, or strictly avoid contact with other people, so the bed and breakfast facility will have increased health and safety measures, including screens and strict social distancing guidelines. We have also been purchasing personal protective equipment for use in the Haven and the local centres, to keep our staff and our clients safe.
"When these changes are implemented, the Haven will reopen with the assurance that all safety measures have been applied to minimise risk to clients and staff. We aim to provide high quality, comfortable accommodation for those receiving cancer treatments in the safest manner possible.
"CLAN is in regular contact with the NHS to ensure it is updated on treatment provision and there has been a collaborative effort to ensure people who are still receiving treatment in Aberdeen continue to be offered suitable accommodation for this vulnerable group.
"Whilst lockdown is difficult for all of us, it is particularly challenging for people affected by cancer, who may not be able to see family members or have a clear plan for treatment, so this local support has been very welcome in Shetland.
"We look forward to reopening CLAN Haven and our local centres as soon as it is appropriate as we know our services are vital to people."
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