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13th June 2016

Care Planning in Cancer Treatment

The Herald Newspaper reported on a recent research survey of cancer patients in Scotland. It has revealed major differences in the service received by some patients. In particular, it found that 78% of patients did not have a full care plan, covering their recovery and social, psychological emotional and financial needs.

The Macmillan cancer charity condemned this gulf in services, saying that an early and holistic needs assessment is vital to a good outcome of treatment. The Government strategy, announced earlier this year, was funded to the extent of £100 million. The First Minister said that it was vitally important that services listened to people about what mattered to them, and acting on what they say. It is rather difficult to uphold this if nearly eight in ten people being treated do not have their wishes and preferences properly recorded in an overall care plan. It suggests a lack of person-centred care, focussing on the problem, not the person.

Of course, there are enormous pressures on health services in this climate of reduced funding and increasing demand. But recovering after medical treatment still requires good care and support. As Citizen's Advice Bureau commented:

“People who have been diagnosed with cancer need all the support they can get – and that includes advice on money. Living with a serious illness can bring financial challenges. For example, a person may be unable to work, or they may need to purchase special aids and equipment, or may need to make special arrangements for transport to hospital appointments.”

These benefits, and advice and support are readily available, although people are often unwilling to ask for help. If they are not told, they may not even know that help and support of various kinds are available in their recovery.

I think it is vitally important that citizens are made fully aware that in any form of significant medical care, a full and holistic care plan should be in place, taking into account their views and preferences. Also it is incumbent on carers to insist on care planning as a right for their loved ones. There is a duty on staff to inform and signpost people to benefits and support, which should be fully recorded. Social care, closely regulated in many forms, has shown the vital necessity for care planning. Medical care needs to follow this good example.

These measures will assist society and individuals in the ongoing struggle with this devastating illness.

Tony Clarke – QCS Expert Scottish Care Contributor


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