Background and Context:
More than 750,000 people of a working age are living with cancer in the UK. 40% of all new diagnoses are amongst working-age people. With survival rates improving and people retiring later, this population is growing. However cancer survivors struggle on their own to go back to work and are 1.4 times more likely to be unemployed than the general population.
Having understood the scale, Macmillan set up a programme to tackle the main barriers preventing people from returning to work. These include lack of work-related health interventions and accommodating workplaces.
Initially, as part of the National Cancer Survivorship Initiative (NCSI), a work and finance project was established. NCSI project ran a number of pilot vocational rehabilitation (VR) services to develop a model of VR support for people with cancer. Following piloting, further research was undertaken to support the development of interventions with employers, health professionals and people with cancer.
Following on from the NCSI project, Macmillan’s Working through Cancer programme has delivered the following:
• A package of support for employers on work and cancer
• Information services for people living with cancer, including a legal advice helpline and national campaigns on rights at work
• Policy influencing to improve availability and access to VR
• Resources and support to enable health professionals have early conversations about work, linked to national care planning processes
Outcomes/What was learned:
A strategic framework for cancer work support developed together with a 3-level model of individual intervention, which was successfully evaluated. Using learning from pilots, Macmillan influenced the new state-funded Health and Work service to include support for people with complex health problems including cancer.
Cancer is not highest priority for employers, yet over 7,500 have signed up for resources, indicating a need and demand for support on this issue.