The Active Together service, delivered by Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) in partnership with Yorkshire Cancer Research and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, helps people with cancer prepare for and recover from treatment through the provision of evidence-based physical activity, nutrition and psychological wellbeing support.
The new approach, based on the latest academic research, has seen patients receive a personalised plan including tailored guidance on exercise, nutrition, and psychological and emotional support before, during and after treatment. It provides individuals with the tools and resources they need to be able to independently manage their health and wellbeing in the long term.
A pilot has involved patients from across Sheffield with lung, upper gastrointestinal and colorectal cancer, and the programme will now widen to include patients with other forms of cancer.
Peter Masling, from Firth Park in Sheffield, was introduced to the Active Together programme after he was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer. The team designed a tailored exercise programme for Peter to help him withstand the side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy and developed a plan to support recovery and build up his strength following the treatment.
Peter said: “Active Together helped me overcome my fatigue. When I was going through treatment, I was very tired, and I’d lost a lot of weight. They designed a programme to help get me back to where I was, to help with the fatigue and build up my strength. I’ve got a lot more energy now because of it, and the programme has also really helped me mentally.
“Yorkshire Cancer Research and Active Together have made a big impact on my life. The programme helped me recover tremendously from my cancer treatment and I’m now more active. I feel more like myself than before.”
Peter has now finished his cancer treatment and continues to receive support from the Active Together team.
He added: “I think I will be more active with the help of Active Together going forward. I will keep doing the exercises and keep walking and trying to be mentally positive.”
Professor Rob Copeland, Director of Sheffield Hallam’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, said: “Prehabilitation and rehabilitation has been shown to be safe and have a significant impact on outcomes for cancer patients undergoing treatment. We know programmes like Active Together help patients cope with surgery, spend less time in hospital as a result and can prepare them well for their post- treatment journey. A key factor is providing patients with a much-needed sense of control, which long-term helps build resilience and sustained participation in healthy nutrition choices and physical activity.”
Dr Kathryn Scott, Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: “In recent years, it has become very clear that exercise plays a vital role in improving cancer survival rates, and that physical activity programmes should be prescribed to people with cancer in the same way as other treatments.
“At Yorkshire Cancer Research, our aim is for 2000 more people to survive cancer every year in Yorkshire. Together with the pioneering team at Sheffield’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, we are taking a huge leap into creating a world-leading programme that can be introduced across Yorkshire and beyond, helping to save many lives.”
To participate in the programme, patients need to be referred to Active Together by their Clinical Nurse Specialist.
Dr Laura Evans, Operational Lead for Active Together and Head of Occupational Therapy at Sheffield Teaching Hospital (STH), said: “Setting up and delivering the Active Together service with Sheffield Hallam University and Yorkshire Cancer research has been a highly collaborative effort that is delivering a personalised and effective service to the people of Sheffield who are living with cancer. The clinical experience of STH physiotherapists, dietitians and psychologists provide expert assessment, rehabilitation, advice and support within a wider team in Active Together. The service is highly individualised for each person with a ‘what matters to you’ approach. I was highly impressed with the commitment of the whole team to provide an effective service and continue to learn and evaluate as the service expands.”
The £16 million Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, based at the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, is dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of the population through innovations that help people move. Its mission is to prevent and treat chronic disease through co-designed research into physical activity, whilst also attracting new jobs and investment to the region.