7 September 2016
Macmillan's Improving the Cancer Journey service development officer, Alison, speaks to a person affected by cancer in Glasgow.
A pioneering support service for cancer patients in Glasgow has helped almost 2000 people with more than 10,000 problems since it began in 2014.
Improving the Cancer Journey (ICJ) is a unique service which ensures people in the city are automatically offered financial, emotional and practical support when they are diagnosed with cancer.
The project, which is a partnership between Macmillan Cancer Support, Glasgow City Council and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, is the first of its kind in the UK.
ICJ has been praised for its approach and won awards across the UK. The Scottish Government included ICJ in their first cancer plan as a model of best practice and pledged £9m to roll similar services out across the country.
A report published this week has evaluated the first two years of ICJ when 1300 people were supported by the service. Of the 96 people who completed service feedback forms, 81% said it had improved their quality of life, 90% said their concerns had been reduced and 93% said it had lowered their feelings of isolation.
Since then, the numbers of people supported by ICJ have continued to rise – 1992 assessments were carried out between the start of the service in February 2014 and August 2016, with 10,007 concerns raised from those assessments. Onward referrals totalling 6,700 have been made to more than 230 organisations in Glasgow which can provide further support.
The report by Edinburgh Napier University also found:
- 61% of those supported by ICJ came from the most deprived category of people living in Glasgow, with another 16% from the second most deprived category
- ICJ has helped people claim almost £1.7m in financial support such as welfare payments, and write off more than £100,000 of debt
- Lung, breast, prostate and bowel cancer were the most common cancers among those who used the service.
Key to the success of ICJ has been a joined-up approach between relevant organisations, the offer of support at the earliest opportunity, and the provision of a link worker giving help with all kinds of concerns as a single point of contact.
ICJ works by contacting every newly diagnosed cancer patient in Glasgow, offering them time with a link worker to discuss their support needs. This Holistic Needs Assessment (HNA) covers all areas of concern, from the practical to the physical and emotional. An individual care plan is then created, outlining the support they need and how they will get it.
The link worker can provide information the person with cancer needs to take control and contact support organisations on their own, or work on their behalf to coordinate support from multiple agencies.
People using the service reported an average of six concerns each in their HNA and ICJ helped deal with more than 10,000 issues in total. The three main areas of concern were money and housing, fatigue and tiredness, and mobility.
Sandra McDermott, Head of ICJ, said: “ICJ has transformed the lives of people affected by cancer and their families and carers in Glasgow. ICJ, which puts people at the centre of their care and support, is a model of care which should be available to everyone in Scotland and the UK.
Glasgow’s Improving the Cancer Journey is proving to be an effective integrated health and social care pathway for people affected by cancer.
“The use of holistic needs assessment and care planning is ensuring that integrated support and care is available at all stages in the treatment journey. This requires every key professional and service to establish effective relationships with each other to deliver integrated solutions.
When the assessment is personal and shared in real time it provides continuity of care and a set of common goals which matter to the person affected by cancer.
There has been a real coming together from across health and social care professionals and people affected by cancer in planning, delivering and providing governance for the development of ICJ. This model of care and governance has the opportunity to be replicated across other long-term health conditions.’’
Janice Preston, Macmillan Cancer Support’s Head of Services in Scotland, said: “Macmillan was delighted to fund this service which we believed would meet a real need for joined-up support in Glasgow.
We know what when someone is diagnosed with cancer, it doesn’t just affect their physical health, it can affect all areas of their life, from their ability to work and support themselves, to their emotional and mental health. ICJ has made a real difference to people with cancer in Glasgow and we look forward to similar services being launched across the country.”
Bailie Philip Braat, City Treasurer at Glasgow City Council, said: “We already believed in the value of this project and the city’s partnership with Macmillan because we could see the positive difference they were making to the lives of Glaswegians with a cancer diagnosis every single day.
However, it is still a huge boost to the whole team to see that belief endorsed so emphatically in this independent evaluation.
Through the drive, determination and creativity of an exceptional group of people, this partnership has transformed cancer care in Glasgow and blazed a trail across the UK for high-quality, integrated services that are focused exactly where they should be: on the people who need them most.
It seems clear now that other areas will follow Glasgow’s lead and I am excited to see what can be achieved when we step up as communities and face cancer together.”
Gary Jenkins, director of Regional Services, NHSGGC, said: “Improving the Cancer Journey is an outstanding example of NHSGGC working with Macmillan, Glasgow City Council and other partner organisations for the benefit of patients across the city.
Worrying about financial or childcare issues when fighting cancer can only be detrimental when patients are focusing on their treatment, and health and wellbeing.
Through ICJ, patients are directed to the most appropriate support services in Glasgow which ensures people in the city are offered emotional and practical support when they are diagnosed with cancer.”