Improving the Cancer Journey

Too many people with cancer aren’t getting the support they need to cope with the emotional, practical and financial effects the illness has on their life. That’s why Macmillan is funding the Improving the Cancer Journey (ICJ) programme.

Macmillan ICJ services offer people with cancer time with a link worker to talk about their support needs, using a tool called a Holistic Needs Assessment (HNA) to guide the conversation.

Based on this, a care plan is created, outlining the kind of support the person with cancer needs and how they will get it. The link worker can provide the person with cancer with the information they need to take control and contact support organisations on their own, or can work on their behalf to coordinate support from multiple agencies.

Glasgow ICJ service - the first of its kind

Macmillan’s first ICJ service was set up in Glasgow in February 2014.

Based within Glasgow City Council, the service sends a letter to everyone newly diagnosed with cancer offering them time with a link worker to talk about their support needs, using the HNA to guide the conversation.  

A care plan is then created, agreed by both parties. This plan sets up how the person with cancer will get the support they need. It can range from simply directing them to sources of support to working on their behalf to coordinate support from multiple agencies.

Impact of the service

Since its launch in February 2014, the service has helped over 3,000 people with an average of six concerns each. The top three concerns overall were money and housing, fatigue, and mobility. The service referred service-users on to over 220 different agencies across Glasgow.

The service’s recent evaluation found that most people were worried about money and either did not know about any of the help available prior to meeting with ICJ or felt it was inappropriate to raise these concerns in a health setting. Having an accessible expert to guide and support someone through the cancer care system provided security, reassurance and the confidence to self-manage.

90% of those surveyed agreed their concerns had been reduced. While 93% said the support they received had reduced their feelings of isolation. Over 80% agreed the service had improved their quality of life while 93% that the service had made them feel supported throughout their cancer journey.

ICJ Dundee

Macmillan and Dundee City Council launched Dundee Macmillan Improving the Cancer Journey (ICJ) in 2017. The service supports people affected by cancer living in Dundee. For further information, please contact 01389 123123 or email improvingthecancerjourney@dundeecity.gov.uk.

ICJ Fife

Macmillan and Fife Health and Social Care Partnership launched the Fife Macmillan Improving the Cancer Journey in 2019. The service supports people affected by cancer living in Fife. For further information, please contact 01592 578 076 or email improving.cancerjourney@fife.gov.uk.

ICJ West Dunbartonshire

Macmillan and West Dunbartonshire Council launched the West Dunbartonshire Macmillan Improving the Cancer Journey in 2020. The service supports people affected by cancer living in West Dunbartonshire. For further information, please contact 0800 980 9070 or email improving.cancerjourney@west-dunbarton.gov.uk.

ICJ Renfrewshire

Macmillan and Renfrewshire Council will soon launch the Renfrewshire Macmillan Improving the Cancer Journey in 2020. The service has commenced, offering support to people affected by cancer living in Renfrewshire. For further information, please contact 0300 300 1380 or email adultservicesreferral.sw@renfrewshire.gov.uk.

What next?

The ICJ model has been so successful that the Scottish Government’s cancer plan, published in spring 2016, promised £9 million to roll out services based on the ICJ model. 

We’re working with the Scottish Government to take this forward and are are in talks with other local authorities to roll-out ICJ to other parts of Scotland.