Financial support alone, via health insurance or group risk products, is not adequate to support people with a cancer diagnosis in today’s environment, according to RedArc. Practical and emotional support, as well as specific policies for the management of people with a cancer diagnosis, are vital in ensuring the individual has the best possible long-term prognosis.
352,000 people are diagnosed with cancer each year and 2.5 million* people living with a cancer diagnosis, which has led to the disease being the biggest cause of long-term sickness in the UK. With cancer becoming more of a chronic illness and many patients surviving for longer, RedArc believes that the industry needs to improve their non-financial support for their clients.
Christine Husbands, managing director for RedArc said: “Due to earlier diagnoses and improved treatments, ‘cancer is not always life-ending but it is often life-changing’ – to quote the charity, Macmillan. The industry needs to acknowledge this and provide better support services for their clients. Financial payouts are clearly important but it’s essential that a more rounded solution is offered in parallel to help the individual adjust to life and work following a serious illness.”
RedArc believes that many insurers only offer financial support via their products because they may not be aware of the value that can be added to support their policies, when in fact such support can be an important differentiator to their proposition. Similarly, it’s important that EAP providers ensure their propositions include a full support for those with cancer.
25% of all new cases that are referred to RedArc personal nurse advisers are patients living with cancer – this is the most commonly referred condition (followed by mental health and orthopaedic). They have found that patients don’t want to worry their family, and friends can be well-meaning but provide ill-informed advice. Living with cancer can often lead to other long-term health issues, patients can also be emotionally affected from their experience and fear the cancer will return. So while financial support can certainly alleviate money worries, there are many other areas where individuals also need help.
RedArc’s experience shows that employees with a cancer diagnosis need support in specific areas, including the following:
- Explanation of the options for treatment and what to expect
- Coping with side-effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy
- Adjusting to everyday life with a cancer diagnosis
- Navigating services available within the NHS and charities such as Macmillan
- Arranging a face-to-face second medical opinion
- Help to prepare for consultant’s appointments and explaining medical terminology
- Emotional wellbeing and relationship problems
- Support in finding suitable equipment and medical aids
- Resources from approved factsheets and media, accessing relevant charities and self-help groups
- Support in returning to work
Christine Husbands continued: “Often the most valuable thing for people diagnosed with cancer is having someone to talk to – in confidence – who is completely outside their circle of friends, family, immediate medical team and employer: a named, ‘expert friend’, with unlimited time constraints, who is on hand as long as needed. This makes a huge difference in helping the individual and their family manage the emotional and physical side effects of the cancer diagnosis.”