The CANSA Pain Manager App
We learn more about the free CANSA Pain Manager App, brought to you by The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), in association with the Centre of Community Technology at Nelson Mandela University (CCT), sponsored by Pfizer.
Unfortunately, unnecessary pain is often experienced by patients during their cancer journey. Through the app, CANSA aims to help close the care gap for patients and caregivers with information to cope better with challenges linked to pain, lower stress levels, and help them take charge of their lives while facing cancer.
COVID-19 resulted in a greater dependence on the caregiver at home, due to limited access to medical staff and facilities. CANSA realised that many loved ones and family members placed in the role of caregivers had limited understanding of how to effectively care for someone living with cancer and how to help them manage pain. These caregivers were also distressed by their loved ones’ suffering.
Darelle Van Greunen, Founder and Director of CCT says, “We’re so honoured to partner with CANSA to better the lives of cancer patients. The CANSA Pain Manager App was developed to assist the patient and caregiver in understanding pain better; locating pain; identifying intensity of pain; administration of medication correctly and timeously, as well as providing reports that can be exported to medical personnel or oncologists.”
Vlooi Venter, CANSA’s Clinical Specialist explains, “A patient’s pain should be identified and understood by the patient and reported to caregivers and medical practitioners so that it is manageable and not unbearable. Pain can be well-controlled when a patient is under supervision of a doctor and the correct combinations of medication are administered as prescribed. However, it’s not always easy for the patient or caregiver to PP-PLB-ZAF-0068
keep track of multiple medications, dosage per medication scheduled for the day or medical check-ups, treatment, appointments with specialists, or to provide detailed feedback to medical personnel regarding the pain they experience.
Other treatment side effects, such as what is often loosely referred to as “chemo brain”, can hamper accurate feedback because the patient’s memory for detail is affected. Pain medication works best if patients take it regularly as prescribed before the pain becomes too severe, so it’s important to have a system in place whereby missing medication is avoided. Detailed feedback to medical personnel is also helpful.”
Pfizer South Africa Medical Director Dr Bha Ndungane-Tlakula says, “At Pfizer, we have a long history in oncology research and development, including a pivotal role in scientific breakthroughs and revolutionary initiatives such as this. We’re proud to be part of this noble intervention that will help in improving the lives of patients living with cancer.”
About the app
The CANSA Pain Manager App can be downloaded for free (Android / IOS). It’s in the format of a diary or calendar allowing the patient or caregiver to input relevant information, such as logging pain experienced daily (where it’s experienced in the body and intensity of pain).
The app generates a weekly and monthly summary to share with medical personnel. It further allows input reminders of medication schedule and dosage and appointment reminders (sync with calendar) and access to resources (links to support services and palliative care, educational information regarding type of cancer and side effects of treatment).
The app is owned and managed by CANSA, and information gathered follows the Protection of Personal Information Act (or POPI Act) protocols. The data resides on the client’s phone and if given permission for research purposes, it will reside in the Google Fire Base, a reliable cloud service, which is managed and owned by CANSA. Any information used for the one-year review of the CANSA Pain Manager App will be anonymised.
Best possible quality of life
Venter concludes, “Pain can be a life-destroyer and affect a patient to the point where they feel there is no hope or reason to continue. Through the CANSA Pain Manager App, CANSA hopes that patients may feel better equipped and supported, so that they will experience the best possible quality of life while coping with a cancer diagnosis.”
Patients and caregivers can also download the CANSA At Home Pain Guide booklet from the CANSA website. CANSA partnered with members of PALPRAC, the Association of Palliative Care Practitioners of South Africa, who contributed to the content of the CANSA Pain Management booklet as well as the CANSA Pain App.