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Practical support

There is a wide range of practical support available – for you and your family. Practical support might include equipment to help you care for someone at home, or benefits and financial help.

If you’ve got family or friends who want to help, ask for specific things – such as a lift to hospital, or help with shopping or cooking.

Help with transport

There is help available with the cost of transport. 

Blue Badge scheme

If you can’t walk or find walking very difficult – and this is a permanent problem – you may be able to apply for a parking permit under the Blue Badge scheme.   The permit can be used in any vehicle you travel in, as a passenger or driver. It allows parking without a time limit or charge in restricted parking areas, disabled public parking bays, or yellow lines. Private car parks aren’t covered by the scheme, but they may have their own disabled parking spaces.

The Blue Badge scheme is run by your local council. You can apply from your local council, or online at:

  • gov.uk if you live in England or Wales
  • mygov.scot if you live in Scotland
  • nidirect if you live in Northern Ireland.

Don’t apply for a Blue Badge from anywhere else, as it may not be legitimate.

If your cancer can’t be cured, it’s best to ask for a paper form from your council, or from the Blue Badge Unit if you live in Northern Ireland. Tell them that you have terminal cancer. This may make the application process easier. If you do apply online, make it clear that they are terminally ill.    

Hospital parking and discounts

Many hospitals charge for parking. However, some people should be able to get free or reduced parking charges, including:

  • people who often have to go to hospital as an outpatient
  • family members of people who are in hospital for a longer period of time
  • people with relatives who are very ill.

Check what the situation is at your hospital. Find out more information about hospital parking from gov.uk 

“I noticed on the hospital website that anyone with cancer or visiting someone having cancer treatment could get reduced parking but I wasn’t told this by a member of the hospital staff.”

Travel to hospital

If you rely on public transport or lifts from other people, they may be able to arrange their appointments to suit, although this isn’t always possible. Some hospitals provide transport, as do the British Red Cross, local charities and support groups. Ask what is available locally.

If you are finding that frequent travel to hospital is expensive, you may be able to get financial help. Ask the hospital staff for information on grants that might be available. Or get in touch with Macmillan Cancer Support for information about any financial support.

Equipment and adaptations

Getting the right equipment to help you manage at home can make a huge difference. This might include ways to raise a seat to make getting up easier, grab rails to help someone get out of the bath, a wheelchair or a hospital-style bed.

An occupational therapist is a professional who can help you find ways to carry out everyday tasks that might be difficult. This might include recommending specific equipment or adaptations at home. They will carry out an assessment to work out what is needed and help you access it. Ask the GP, specialist nurse or another health or social care professional to refer you to an occupational therapist. You can also contact your council, or pay to see a private occupational therapist.

You may need to pay towards the cost of the equipment or installing it. This will depend on your local council. You may be able to apply for a grant to help with the cost. Many hospices provide similar assessments and access to equipment.

If you are thinking of buying any equipment yourself, the Disabled Living Foundation can provide information and advice about what’s available.

If you only need special equipment for a short time, such as while recovering from surgery, then the hospital or district nurse will usually supply equipment for as long as it’s needed. This may depend on your local services. Charities such as the British Red Cross lend equipment such as wheelchairs or raised toilet seats.

“Approach everyone who you feel could help, especially Pancreatic Cancer UK, who will point you in the right direction. Don’t be afraid to phone charities like the Red Cross who have many practical items they will loan you.”

“The most helpful practical support was equipment – mattress, bath seat, wheelchair. We never had any issues in obtaining any of this. The community nurses were excellent in giving us information and very proactive in obtaining the equipment.”

Published June 2017

To be reviewed June 2019

Information Standard