There are currently 1.6 million people in England who are living with a diagnosis of cancer. Cancer must move up the agenda of social care so that they are not left to cope with the consequences of cancer alone.
Ciarán Devane, Macmillan Cancer Support CEO from 2007 to 2014.
People living with cancer and their carers have great difficulty obtaining the social care that meets their needs. Over a third of people (35%) do not feel confident about how and where to access social care support. The lack of high-quality social care for people living with cancer means that carers are required to take on substantial responsibilities, which has a knock-on effect on their health, well-being and financial status.
Consequently, people’s needs can escalate, resulting in costly and inappropriate hospital admissions. Macmillan commissioned research to find out why cancer is not a priority for social care services, to inform both the Government’s reform of the adult social care system and the development of Macmillan’s own services.
For more information about social care for people affected by cancer, see our social care report and other useful documents in the key documents box below.
Being at home made the situation easier for us to cope with. It was comforting to know Emile was in the place he wanted to be and surrounded by people he knew and loved.
Liz, campaign supporter
With the right support, 73% of people with cancer would prefer to die at home, yet only 29% actually do.
At present, NHS-provided care is free at the point of need while social care services are means-tested. This means that people with assets above only £23,250 have to pay for their social care.
Also, the process for accessing state-funded social care is complicated and lengthy, and is carried out separately from the healthcare system. For patients who have maybe only weeks to live this fragmentation leads to delays that can prevent them from dying in the place of their choosing.
We therefore believe that people in the last months of life, who are on an end of life care register, should receive free social care. This would help them to die at home if they so choose.
For more information visit our choice at the end of life campaign.
Investing in community care
The number of people surviving cancer for more than five years from initial diagnosis will more than double to 2.7 million in 2030.
As people live longer with and beyond cancer more are affected by long-term and complex conditions. Evidence shows us that almost two in three people with cancer (64%) have practical or personal support needs1. We also know that 1 in 10 (11%) people with cancer in the UK, equivalent to at least 160,000 people, say they are constantly or often left housebound due to a lack of social care support2.
With investment in the health and social care system across the UK likely to reduce over the next five years, there will be greater pressure to deliver this much needed support. For this we need to rely on the expertise of others to provide this specialist care. That’s why Macmillan is exploring new approaches enabling a wider range of providers to better meet people’s, non-clinical needs, and build strong local support for them once they have left hospital.
To support this new approach we will invest, in partnership with Big Society Capital, into a social impact fund which will enable local communities to create the services they need the most. The fund is referred to as The Care and Wellbeing Fund and will be managed by Social Finance Ltd and supported by the Health Foundation.
The Care and Wellbeing Fund will work in partnership with commissioners and organisations in local communities, expanding the level and types of support available and improving the quality of life for people affected by cancer and other long term conditions.
For further information please contact Richard Ball.
1,2Macmillan Cancer Support, Hidden at Home – the social care needs of people with cancer, 2015.
SOLACE and Macmillan
The Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers (SOLACE) represents 1,700 of the most senior executives and managers in UK local government.
Since 2010, Macmillan Cancer Support and SOLACE have worked together to raise awareness of Macmillan's activities, and are developing a number of partnerships with local authorities. These partnerships will focus on re-shaping services for cancer patients and their families, developing innovative local services and better co-ordinating care and support in communities.
For more information, visit the SOLACE website.