Fresh Hair, wigs and wellbeing

53 - Fresh Hair staff

My name is Gaynor Muir and I’m the Salon Manager for Fresh Hair and Wigs and Wellbeing, which is located at the cancer centre at University Hospital North Midlands. Fresh Hair offers a bespoke, one-to-one wig fitting service for those that have lost their hair due to treatment or illness of any cause. Over 700 patients a year from North Staffordshire and beyond are benefitting from the services offered by Fresh Hair.

A permanent salon

I first heard about NHS Change Day from Anna Babic, Graduate Trainee in the Cancer Centre. I decided that I could use Change Day as a great opportunity to reach out to other trusts and charities, to create awareness of the importance of an efficient wig fitting and hair loss management service to help those faced with this devastating outcome of treatment.

My Change Day pledge was to be actively involved with the running of the cancer facility. I wanted to offer more services to help women cope with their impending hair loss and to create awareness of the facility and the fund raising required to facilitate the building of a bespoke salon. To do this, I joined Fiona Ford (Fresh Hair founder) along with a core team of eight other volunteers and a team of fundraisers to implement a fund raising programme to raise £200,000, to enable Fresh Hair to move into permanent premises within the cancer centre.

I feel enormous pride that in November 2014 we moved into our wonderful bespoke facility. What began as a project discussed over a cup of coffee in 2010 by Fiona Ford and I has led to the creation of something that is now recognised by the trust as an important part of our cancer service provision.

Offering a better service

Since April 2014 I’ve been employed as the Salon Manager. I’m now able to implement more services to help with the cosmetic side effects of chemotherapy, including hair loss management, hair recovery after treatment, nail care and skin care.

The health service is not all about medicine and surgery. A woman should not have to suffer the trauma of chemotherapy induced hair loss before she gets replacement hair. We know wig fitting is offered in other hospitals but often involves long delays and much ‘guess work’ as to whether the wig on order will do the job.

The positive impact for patients accessing this enhanced facility is made obvious every day. We are a place to go when there is nowhere else to turn, we have time to share personal experiences and offer encouragement and we can help women keep their identity, pride and femininity.

I know that our oncology consultants, CNS’s and others involved in the implementation of chemotherapy, value our service. We make sure we offer a service that can ‘dove tail’ with their care and expertise and can take over where medicines and surgery leave off. We have the time to discuss the cosmetic side effects of treatment and the ability to offer practical help and advice. Patients come to Fresh Hair to discuss what can be done to help even before their chemotherapy starts.

Some of our volunteers have been involved with Fresh Hair since 2011, due to their own disappointing experience of inadequate wig fitting. I have drawn upon their experiences of treatment to help me to understand what is required to help patients at this time.

The future

The changes that have been made to the wig fitting service within UHNM will be sustained by the implementation of a specially written training programme that will be ongoing within the salon. The continuation of fundraising will also help us to sustain our goals.

I never thought in my wildest dreams that an opportunity to become a volunteer would lead to this. I have been totally consumed by Fresh Hair and all that it stands for. Every day I meet women who have such amazing courage and determination, who want to carry on with their everyday life and look and feel like the person they really are. I am privileged to be able to play a part.
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