Current projects

Explore some of the projects the Inclusion department are running.

Macmillan Values Based Standard

In 2009 we commissioned the development of an innovative framework and methodology for improving both patient and staff experience in cancer care services. The Macmillan Values Based Standard ® [PDF] identifies eight behaviours – practical things that staff can do on a day-to-day basis to ensure that people’s rights, including dignity and respect, are protected. It focuses on the ‘moments that matter’ to people and their carers. It was designed with the help of over 300 healthcare staff and people living with and affected by cancer across the country.

Research indicates that patient experience varies. But rather than thinking about how to make improvements for specific groups, the Macmillan Values Based Standard suggests that ‘difference’ is the norm and that care must respond to the needs of each individual patient.

The Macmillan Values Based Standard is staff-, patient- and carer-led. Rather than performance benchmarks ‘imposed’ from above, it emphasises co-productive behaviours between staff and patients.

Sites interested in piloting the Macmillan Values Based Standard have been increasing each year. Since 2014 it has been piloted in over 30 sites across England and Scotland.

Find out more about the Macmillan Values Based Standard on LearnZone, or contact the Inclusion team.

User-led taskforces

We know that inequalities in cancer care exist, and that the causes of these inequalities can be multiple, complex, and varied. The most disadvantaged may suffer multiple sources of exclusion and barriers to accessing health services, with an unacceptable impact on their health and chances of survival. To understand and address these inequalities, our user-led taskforces have formed a coalition of interested partner organisations, with people affected by cancer who have experience of these issues. The taskforces will gather evidence of the causes of inequalities and how they can be addressed.

In 2016 we are running two user-led taskforces:

LGBT and Cancer taskforce

Mental Health and Cancer taskforce

Poor mental health is the commonest co-morbidity experienced by cancer patients. Evidence suggests people with mental health problems can be 30-74%1 more likely to die from cancer (depending on the type of mental health problem they have) than the overall population of people diagnosed with cancer. People living with cancer often struggle to access appropriate mental health assessment and treatment. People living with mental health problems can have their cancer symptoms overlooked, with their physical symptoms being seen as part of their mental health problem.

We’re developing partnerships with national mental health charities, including Mind, Together for Mental Wellbeing and the Mental Health Foundation, as well as with NHS England and Public Health England, to take this work forward. We’re also working with a reference group of patients and carers to steer the direction of the taskforce. We aim to bring together patients, carers, professionals and partner organisations to co-design potential ideas for change.

To find out more, please contact Maya Albert.

1 Chang et al, BMJ Open 2014;4:e004295doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-004295 

Developing the Cancer Voices network

Cancer Voices are people from across the UK who have experience of cancer or caring for someone with cancer. They work with Macmillan to help shape cancer services and improve cancer care. Macmillan works with Cancer Voices in a broad range of projects from research, to service development, to campaigning. In 2016 we will continue to strengthen how we work with Cancer Voices, including:

  • Improvements to the Cancer Voices' opportunities platform on the volunteering web pages
  • Recruiting more Cancer Voices to ensure it is as diverse and representative as possible
  • Increasing the number and range of opportunities that are available to Cancer Voices

The Cancer Voices Conference

The Cancer Voices conference is a national annual event for Cancer Voices, usually held in October each year. In 2016 we will continue to develop the conference as a platform for exploring how the knowledge, skills, and experiences of people affected by cancer can help shape the future of cancer care. For more information on the 2015 conference download the delegates report [PDF] or watch this video.

Grants for self help and support groups

Our grants, resources and training courses are here to help with running self help and support groups.

We offer:

  • Supporting You to Help others grant to help start and develop a group
  • Training to help your group develop and to make positive changes to it
  • Free and downloadable resources to help those who are setting up or running a group with a range of issues, from promoting a group, to legal issues.

HCA Care and Compassion Programme

Since October 2014, Macmillan Cancer Support has been developing and testing an innovative development programme designed to support health and social care support workers in all settings that have care and compassion at their heart. The programme is workplace-based, person-centred, and embeds Macmillan’s Values Based Standard® [PDF] of compassion, dignity and respect as a common thread. Therefore, it naturally covers significant components of the Care Certificate.

What is the HCA programme?

This is an exciting programme of work that aims to model how support workers can be helped to provide compassionate care, learn about reflective practice and be supported in their roles.

The programme covers:

  • You and your values – an exploration of values, what this means and an introduction to reflective practice
  • Supporting the person I am with – observing, noticing, person-centred care tools and techniques
  • Developing your communication skills at work – characteristics of human communication, listening skills
  • Difficult conversations and looking after myself - managing difficult conversations well, resilience at work
  • How I make a difference at work – what I can do/change, care talk techniques, SBAR, HEART

Why do we need it?

There are currently 1.3 million frontline, unregistered staff in the UK who deliver the bulk of care in hospitals, care homes and individual homes. In Macmillan’s experience across all sectors, these direct care-givers are the most unqualified of a care team and yet have the most direct contact with patients.  

Echoing other findings, for example from The Cavendish Review[1] and more recently, feedback received from the Talent for Care consultation on the development of the Healthcare Support workforce[2], our work implementing the Values Based Standard has found that health care assistants have the least investment in their professional development. They often feel they are unheard and undervalued. Yet, when given an opportunity to reflect upon patient experience, they continuously demonstrate how well they can respond to patients' needs.  

Macmillan has identified the role of a health care assistant often becomes extremely task-focussed. Job after job with little or no time to reflect on their practice or how their behaviours impact on their patients or indeed, how their own experience of caring affects them personally. Research strongly indicates a firm link between staff morale and patient experience so it seems to be in everyone’s interests that this workforce are supported to provide good person-centred care.

With two million people living with cancer, rising to four million by 2030, our focus at Macmillan is on how those people affected by cancer are cared for. We see health care assistants as a vital part of the workforce that will be required to deliver that care in the future.  However, all patients deserve to be treated with care and compassion and in many organisations care for people with cancer takes place in general wards and care homes where a mix of patients are to be found. For this reason Macmillan strongly believes that this workforce, and the patients cared for by them, will benefit greatly from a high-quality development programme with care and compassion at its heart.

[1]The Cavendish Review: An Independent Review into Healthcare Assistants and Support Workers in the NHS and social care settings


[2]Talent for Care Feedback from the consultation on the development of the Healthcare Support workforce August 2014