Tuesday 16th December 2014
Mac Voice, the magazine for Macmillan professionals: Winter 2014
A service in Glasgow is helping people with cancer access whatever types of support they need, Sandra McDermott writes
In February 2014, Glasgow became the pilot site for a project to make sure people with cancer knew where to turn for any kind of help they needed, whether it was emotional, practical, medical or financial.
The Improving the Cancer Journey service, funded to the tune of £3 million by Macmillan, was a UK first, with NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Glasgow City Council, social care providers Cordia, and Glasgow Life all on board.
The service began by sending letters, via an NHS team member, to every newly diagnosed patient with prostate, lung, colorectal, sarcoma or gynaecological cancer. The letter offered them a Holistic Needs Assessment (HNA) to establish what kind of support they needed.
Those who agreed to an assessment – over 180 people in six months – were then helped by my team to tackle the more than 1,700 issues they were facing, from living in unsuitable accommodation to struggling to cope with the emotional impact of cancer.
In the first six months, we referred our clients to over 600 external agencies, from Macmillan to Women’s Aid. We helped patients self manage 86 issues and we helped family members access support by carrying out 34 carers’ assessments.
One case that really affected us all was a man with bowel cancer who didn’t have a lot of money and who was living in a bedsit and sharing bathroom facilities with strangers. This wasn’t at all appropriate for someone in his condition, especially after surgery, so we were able to talk to the local housing association on his behalf and find him somewhere else to live. Although he found out his illness was terminal, he still scored himself lower on all HNA distress measures after we had supported him than he had when we first got in touch.
Cases like that make the whole team appreciate how vital this project is and reinforces our determination to make it work.
Following the success of the pilot and external evaluation, we are now extending the service to all cancer types to enable us to help even more people and families affected by cancer.
We have been overwhelmed so far by the real desire of everyone we’ve dealt with to see this project work. We hope this fantastic example of partnership working will continue so that we will be able to say in confidence that no one in Glasgow has to face cancer alone.
To refer someone to the service or to find out more about Improving the Cancer Journey, please contact the team on 0141 287 7077.
Sandra McDermott (pictured above)
Improving the Cancer Journey Programme Manager
Macmillan Cancer Support