The Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre at Harrogate District Hospital opened its doors to patients earlier this year treating around 40 to 50 people per day.
The £8million unit was built thanks to £3million donations from both Sir Robert Ogden and Macmillan, along with a £2million contribution from the Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust.
The state-of-the-art unit offers a holistic approach to cancer treatment and health and wellbeing, with access to Macmillan services and complementary therapies on site.
“Cancer is big, a cancer diagnosis is huge, it is a big change for patients. It is a huge shock for people and it has a big impact on their lives,” said Lynda Gregson, senior sister at the Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre who has worked at Harrogate District Hospital for 11 years.
“All the staff were so excited to move over to the new building, we had outgrown the old facility. Our patients were always very understanding but it was clear we needed a purpose built unit.”
The building was designed with input from patients and has been decorated with a lavender colour scheme, chosen by Lady Ogden.
The waiting areas are set up to be comfortable and sociable and the atmosphere of the whole building is calm and relaxing. Striped curtains in Sir Robert Ogden’s racing colours separate treatment areas.
“The new layout offers much more privacy and dignity, which is so important,” said Mrs Gregson.
Patient Richard Salter, 65, has been undergoing chemotherapy at the Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre since it opened.
He said: “This place is much more comfortable and relaxing, it is just little things like the temperature of the room being right without any draughts, and the chairs being comfortable which is important when you are sitting still sometimes five or six hours.”
Mr Salter was first diagnosed with bowel cancer two years ago. Despite being given the all clear in May 2013 the disease has since spread to his liver and is now inoperable.
He receives chemotherapy treatment every week in the new centre. He said: “I feel fine in myself, the thing is you have got to be positive, I still go out walking, I can’t let it stop me from doing anything.”
He added: “The staff here are brilliant, the consultants and the nurses are just fantastic, so are the volunteers.”
Around 20 of the hospitals 500 volunteers help on at the Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre, doing anything from serving tea and cake to filing.
Mike Egerton volunteers at the unit helping the Macmillan welfare and benefits adviser, Phil Bremner, with admin.
He said: “I have been impressed by the positive way people have spoken about the place, it has a totally different atmosphere.”
Mr Bremner only started the newly created role in November 2013 but has since accessed over £540,000 in annual benefits for patients and carers in Harrogate.
He said: “The welfare system can be complicated and the last thing people need when they are ill is to be worrying about finances. Some people are surprised by the help available to them it makes a huge difference to their peace of mind.”
The centre also offers complimentary therapies including reiki and regular wellbeing sessions through Macmillan.