Friday 30th September 2016
Mac Voice, the magazine for Macmillan professionals: Autumn 2016
A pilot project is improving support for people living with and beyond lung cancer in Manchester
Lung cancer is the third most common cancer, with 45,525 new lung cancer cases in 2013. It is often diagnosed at an advanced stage, which is reflected in poor survival rates and outcomes. Manchester has a higher incidence of lung cancer than the national average. People with lung cancer can often feel abandoned after treatment, and while they wait for outpatient appointments. Sometimes those diagnosed at a later stage are not suitable for treatment, but still need support.
The Macmillan lung cancer nurse specialists in Manchester felt that they could not always provide the level of support they wanted, due to increasing pressures within the acute hospital setting. So funding was sought for care coordinators to work across the acute and community settings.
Starting the project
Funding from Macmillan was secured for a project lead – an experienced Macmillan lung cancer nurse specialist – and two part time band 4 care coordinators. Having coordinators in post would allow the Macmillan lung cancer nurse specialists to concentrate on people with complex physical and psychological issues.
The pilot project began in August 2015, and the aim was to identify people with a diagnosis of lung cancer (either radiologically or biopsy confirmed), living in South Manchester who would benefit from support. The care coordinators underwent a three month induction period and training on communication skills, the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer, local support services and emotional resilience.
Common issues highlighted by people living with and beyond lung cancer include:
- anger/frustration about not being able to do things they would normally
Often the worries are not directly related to living with and beyond lung cancer, but they still make coping more difficult. Working closely with the Macmillan lung cancer specialist nurses, lung cancer multidisciplinary team and Community Macmillan team, referrals are made. The Macmillan care coordinators can:
- signpost to other services
- offer support and advice to help people manage their own health
- help negotiate the complexities of the NHS
- offer the opportunity to complete a holistic needs assessment and agree an individual care plan.
The frequency of contact is agreed with the person with lung cancer. That contact can either be face to face or via the telephone. Telephone contact is often much appreciated, so people know there is someone they can call if needed.
‘I felt that I was an individual – not just another patient.'
‘I am supported as much or as little as I need. I know they will always be there for me if I need anything.'
Just over a year into the project, feedback from patients, such as the quotes above, has been positive. The team are hopeful this will continue through the rest of the pilot and beyond.
1. Cancer Research UK. Lung cancer statistics. www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/lung-cancer (accessed July 2016)
2. Macmillan Cancer Support. The Rich Picture: People With Lung Cancer. 2014.
Macmillan Lung Cancer Nurse Specialist
University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust