Friday 15th April 2016
Mac Voice, the magazine for Macmillan professionals: Spring 2016
In the past, we have used the term ‘Macmillan professionals’ to refer to health and social care professionals whose posts have been funded by Macmillan, but who are employed by another organisation. But since September last year, public-facing staff in our offices and mobile services have also been recognised as Macmillan professionals.
This includes staff from the Macmillan Support Line, the Mobile Information and Support Service, Macmillan Grants and the Cancer Information Development team.
The purpose of the change is to recognise the professionalism of the clinicians, information professionals and trained customer-facing staff who work for Macmillan in these services. It will also reassure the public that whether they are receiving support on the phone or face to face, regardless of which organisation they approach, they will receive the same professional service and level of expertise.
Recognising public-facing staff as professionals is about more than just the title. It’s also about recognising the standards, culture and professional behaviour such staff consistently demonstrate in helping over 200,000 people affected by cancer each year. The new status also enables these staff to have wider access to future development opportunities.’
Mac Voice spoke to three members of these teams about the change, and about the day-to-day public engagement their roles involve.
Su Higgins, Macmillan Mobile Information and Support Specialist
‘My role involves providing free, confidential information and support for anyone affected by cancer in a variety of community settings. This includes working from our Macmillan vehicles in town centres, workplaces, county shows and faith events, and outreach events in local communities. Our “drop in, no appointment” provision is ideal for accessing harder to reach communities and localities, for example BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) and traveller communities.
‘The title of Macmillan professionals recognises our commitment to delivering a high-quality care experience, along with information and support, for people facing a difficult period in their lives. Equally, it highlights the role we play in raising awareness of the variety of Macmillan services available.
‘I have great pride in all the achievements of the Mobile Information and Support Service. I remember one lady in great need of financial help coming onto the bus. That day there happened to be a local Macmillan benefits adviser with us; we link strongly with local service teams and partnerships. She was able to have an instant appointment and access the help she desperately needed. Being a Macmillan professional with access to ongoing educational learning and development will enable me to continue providing this first-class service.’
Hazel Slow, Macmillan Information and Support Officer, Macmillan Support Line – Shipley
‘I am a listening ear for people with cancer, as well as carers, friends, relatives, employers and healthcare professionals, offering emotional support and space to talk. For many people it may be the first time they have spoken to someone about how they really feel, and it is rewarding to be a friendly voice on the end of the phone for people who are often feeling alone.
‘Becoming Macmillan professionals recognises the part our team plays in the range of support available from Macmillan. As part of my role I signpost people to other support organisations and local Macmillan services, and put people through to the other teams including Cancer Information Nurse specialists, Welfare Rights and Financial Guidance.
‘I remember speaking to someone who had received positive news about his diagnosis. He found he was feeling negative and anxious when he felt he should be happy. I gave him space to talk and empathised with how he was feeling. He identified that he may benefit from speaking to other people who had had similar news, so I looked at local support groups and we talked about the online community. By the end of the call he sounded a lot more positive, and said I had helped just by listening. Sometimes simply having someone to talk to is all somebody needs.’
Sue Green, Senior Information Development Nurse – London
‘I am part of the team that develops and reviews Macmillan’s information for people affected by cancer. We provide online information, booklets and leaflets, audio books, e-books, videos and information in different languages.
‘Information can make all the difference to someone who has been diagnosed with cancer and their family and friends. People may be given a lot of information at hospital visits but they will often think of questions while at home. They need information they can rely on to help them make sense of what they’ve been told and make decisions about their treatment.
‘Being a Macmillan professional is recognition of the fact that, while our team doesn’t have a lot of face to face contact with people, the work we do can make a real difference. It plays a huge role in the support we give to people.
‘People affected by cancer are involved in reviewing our information, and their contributions help us to gettheir perspective and understand the sorts of questions they have. We recently had an email from someone who wanted to say thank you for the way our booklets are written. She said they had been a life-saver to her and made things a lot easier. Our information is used by hundreds of people every day and it’s great when we hear that it’s made a difference.
Email Dorothy Duffy, Direct Services Clinical Programme Manager and Professional Lead.