Coping with practical issues when you have a cancer diagnosis

The information on this page may be helpful to cancer patients and those caring for them.

Where can I get practical assistance with day to day living?

If you are older and frail or have difficulty with everyday tasks or have a disability you may be able to access assistance with a range of day to day activities through the Commonwealth funded Home and Community Care program (HACC).

This may include assistance with everyday household tasks, preparation or delivery of meals and minor structural changes to your home to help maintain your independence and safety.

It may also include personal assistance provided by a registered or enrolled nurse or assistance to support your independence in your personal care activities such as showering and dressing. In order to stay at home you may require assistance to keep up with essential activities such as shopping, banking and maintaining social contacts. For more specific problems allied health professionals may assist to enhance nutrition, function, strength, independence and safety. You may need assistance to help you attend doctor’s appointments and treatments.

To find out whether you are eligible or for more information you can call the Regional assessment service on 1300 785 415 or browse the Western Australia Home and Community Care Program website and the www.myagedcare.gov.au/aged-care-services/commonwealth-home-support-programme

Cancer Council Western Australia Practical Assistance Program

For patients and families who are not eligible for support from Commonwealth funded services, the Cancer Council may be able to offer some limited assistance through the Practical Support Program. This Cancer Council Western Australia program provides short term assistance for patients undergoing treatment or management of cancer, or who have completed their cancer treatment in the last six months. Funded by public donations, the Practical Support Program can assist in areas such as light domestic cleaning, gardening and child care services. To find out if you are eligible, call a nurse at Cancer Council 13 11 20.

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Is there any support in getting to cancer treatment?

Getting to your cancer treatment centre and finding suitable parking can become a significant stress for patients and carers. Some transport assistance may be available. For information about services you can access in your area, call Cancer Council 13 11 20.

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Where can I get financial advice and assistance?

The time and costs associated with cancer treatment and recovery can have a significant impact on your financial situation. Your hospital social worker or the Cancer Council Regional Support Coordinator may be able to provide you with some information and refer you to the Cancer Council for some help with practical measures to manage your finances.

Limited financial assistance is available through the Cancer Council WA to eligible cancer patients who are undergoing active treatment or who are palliative, and who meet the financial hardship criteria. To find out if you are eligible, you need to meet with the social worker at your treating hospital or the Regional Support Coordinator.  If you do not have access to a social worker at your treating hospital contact Cancer Council 13 11 20.

The Cancer Council also offers a financial planning service. For more information, please call Cancer Council 13 11 20.

Centrelink financial assistance may be available through benefits and pensions and can help pay for the cost of prescription medicines.  You may also be eligible for Centrelink Payments. Carers may qualify for the Carers Allowance (non means/asset tested) and/ or the Carers Payment. The Centrelink website will provide you with more information about the options and services available to you.

The Financial Counselling Helpline offers a free telephone service to assist people with financial difficulties. Contact 1800 007 007 or The Financial Counsellors Association of Western Australia website .

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I am confused about my legal matters and need to get things in order. Can I get some help?

Community Legal Centres (CLCs) are not for profit, non-government organisations that provide legal and welfare services. There are some services that specialise in certain areas such as the legal problems of Centrelink benefit recipients. Others offer more general services within their local communities.

Services provided by CLCs include legal information, advice and representation to individuals and groups, community education and law reform activities and advice to governments on policy issues. Most services are free or at a very low cost but may have eligibility criteria. The Legal Aid WA website has more information. The Cancer Council can also connect you with a lawyer through the Legal Assistance Service.

A booklet titled Cancer care and your rights outlines what you can reasonably expect of your treatment team and the health care system. It also includes some basic information about insurance and workplace rights, and practical issues such as paying for treatment, finding a specialist, and accessing community services.

It is important to understand that the law varies across the states in Australia so for advice that is specific to your personal needs it is important to speak to a lawyer who specialises in the area you are interested in.

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