New centre provides care to cancer patients in Lithuania
The mission of the St Francis Oncology Centre in Klaipeda, western Lithuania is to provide pastoral, psychological and social care to cancer patients and their relatives. EU funding supported the construction of the oncology centre (1 214 m2) as well as an information, art and therapy centre (484 m2). The oncology centre has 40 rooms, including specialist areas, and can cater for 40 patients at one time.
" The St Francis Oncology Centre is proving to be a valuable resource for Lithuania. The centre provides spiritual, social, and psychological support, along with health promotion and accommodation services for cancer patients and their relatives. Our vision is to improve the quality of life of patients and care for the well-being of their families. Meanwhile, our education initiatives are helping to improve understanding of the disease. "
The centre is run as a non-profit public body, established by the Lithuanian St Casimir Province of the Order of Friars Minor. The Franciscans provide services at the centre alongside psychologists, social workers, art therapists and volunteers. They have forged links with other health care institutions and palliative care specialists based in Lithuania and abroad. The centre is based on Christian values and aims to provide care that respects a person’s dignity and that overcomes the stigma that the illness can sometimes bring.
In 2017 alone, around 1 500 people used the centre’s services. In addition to supporting patients and their relatives and friends, communications play an important role at the centre. St Francis delivers programmes to the general public to change attitudes about cancer and staff prepare and publish informative publications about the disease.
The centre’s wider goals include:
- Educating and teaching patients and family members about cancer;
- Encouraging the centre’s staff to learn more about cancer as a disease and to strive for higher standards of care;
- Carrying out a programme to educate society on how lifestyle changes can help prevent cancer;
- Helping the public understand the value of early diagnosis;
- Changing people’s attitudes toward cancer as being only an incurable desease;
- Reducing the social isolation that cancer patients can sometimes feel.
Four people have been employed at the centre as a direct result of the EU investment – a social worker, a communications specialist and two cleaners.
Total investment and EU funding
Total investment for the project “St Francis Oncology Centre” is EUR 1 378 610, with the EU’s Cohesion Fund contributing EUR 1 171 818 through the “Promotion of Cohesion” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period. The investment falls under the priority “Quality and accessibility of public services: health, education and social infrastructure”.