Onkologisches Spitzenzentrum & Self-help Friendly Hospital

On its way from being the first German Comprehensive Cancer Center to becoming a National Center of Excellence, NCT Heidelberg has continuously evolved in order to provide its patients with the best possible advice and treatment. Its recognition as an Oncology Center of Excellence by "Deutsche Krebshilfe e. V." (German Cancer Aid) is a tribute to the high-quality work performed at NCT Heidelberg.

Moreover, in 2012, NCT Heidelberg was the first oncologic center in the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region to be acclaimed as a self-help friendly hospital. In 2022 – for the fifth time – NCT Heidelberg was awarded the "self-help friendly hospital" certificate.

We do not regard these commendations as the endpoint of our efforts targeting the wellbeing of our patients, but rather as the starting point for the continuous improvement of our work.

In 2022 – for the fifth time – the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg was awarded the "self-help friendly hospital" certificate. A prerequisite was the systematic development and implementation of quality criteria within the framework of a quality circle.

Group photo members of the quality circle, NCT patient advisory board, self-help office Heidelberg, employees of NCT Heidelberg

A self-help friendly hospital is characterized by

  • promoting contact between patients, their families and friends, and self-help groups,
  • actively supporting self-help groups willing to cooperate,
  • improving medical action and care measures through integrating practical knowledge from self-help groups,
  • patient orientation in the sense of self-help friendliness—systematic and refined on the basis of verifiable quality criteria.

Quality Circle

A quality circle was founded at NCT Heidelberg in which the following participants collaborate as equal partners:

  • Heidelberg University Hospital
  • cooperating self-help groups
  • the Heidelberg Self-help Office

The network "Selbsthilfefreundlichkeit und Patientenorientierung im Gesundheitswesen" (Self-help Friendliness in the Healthcare System) supported this process through continuous methodologic and structural assistance, and also functioned as a moderator. The self-help group representatives, in consultation with the self-help delegate and under the moderation of the "Agentur Selbsthilfefreundlichkeit" (Agency for Self-help Friendliness), developed concrete measures with regard to each criterion in the quality circle, which were implemented promptly and transparently at NCT. These measures are incorporated in internal quality management.

The following oncologic self-help groups took part in the quality circle:

  • Selbsthilfebeauftragte des Nationalen Centrums für Tumorerkrankungen (NCT) Heidelberg
  • Heidelberger Selbsthilfebüro
  • AdP - Arbeitskreis der Pankreatektomierten e.V.
  • Bezirksverein der Kehlkopflosen und Kehlkopfoperierten Heidelberg-Mannheim e.V. mit Selbsthilfegruppe Mosbach
  • BRCA-Netzwerk, Hilfe bei familiärem Brust- und Eierstockkrebs e.V., Gesprächskreis Heidelberg
  • Kopf-Hals-Tumor (KHT) Selbsthilfegruppe, Heidelberg
  • Leukämie- und Lymphom-Hilfe (LLHM-Rhein-Neckar)
  • mamazone - Frauen und Forschung gegen Brustkrebs e.V., Regionalgruppe Heidelberg-Mannheim
  • Selbsthilfegruppe Multiples Myelom, Kurpfalz, Heidelberg, Neustadt a. d. Weinstraße
  • Netzwerk Neuroendokrine Tumoren (Net) e. V.
  • Lebertransplantierte Deutschland e.V. Kontaktgruppe Heidelberg/Mannheim

Quality Criteria

  1. In order to inform people about self-help, we provide premises, infrastructure, and possibilities for presentation, the design of which are adapted to the needs of the patients and their families, as well as to those of the self-help groups.
  2. Patients and their families are regularly and personally informed about possibilities for participating in self-help groups. They are provided with handouts and are made aware of visiting services and consultation sessions at the hospital.
  3. Self-help groups are supported in their public relations work and present themselves to the professional community as cooperation partners.
  4. The hospital has appointed an official self-help representative.
  5. A regular exchange of information and experiences takes place between the self-help groups/support agencies and the hospital.
  6. The self-help groups/support agencies are involved in continuing education and training for the staff.
  7. The hospital allows for self-help groups being involved in quality circles, ethics review committees, etc.
  8. Cooperation with a self-help group and/or support agency is formally agreed and documented.

(Source: Self-help Friendliness in the Healthcare System network)

Implementation of these criteria is regularly jointly reviewed in the quality circle and any alterations in the appropriate SOPs are documented. A review focused on awarding the certificate anew is conducted every two years by the Self-help Friendliness network.