Cancer, palliative and end-of-life care are national priorities, as over two million people in the UK are living with or in remission from cancer: 6,500 people will die as a direct result of the disease each year in Greater Manchester alone. The various elements of cancer care are provided by a range of clinical and non-clinical staff working as part of many multidisciplinary teams, each aiming to provide the highest level of care to every patient.
To meet the expected standards of care for people affected by cancer (PABC), education and training needs to be improved for all members of the workforce across Manchester. To address this problem, we were commissioned by the Macmillan Cancer Improvement Partnership (MCIP), working with health and social care organisations across the city and funded by Macmillan Cancer Support, to conduct a cancer-specific learning and development needs scoping project for generalist staff in primary, community and palliative care caring for PABC across Manchester.
Between May and October 2014, we worked alongside MCIP, The University of Manchester’s School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work (SNMSW) and St Ann’s Hospice to engage with a wide range of both clinical and non-clinical staff and capture the views and opinions of PABC in the Manchester community.
There were a range of positive outcomes from this project, including a high number of responses from a wide range of services and locations to the workforce questionnaire that formed an integral part of the information gathering process. Many who responded expressed their gratitude at the opportunity to provide their feedback to key local stakeholders in the provision of cancer and end-of-life care in Manchester.
Our recommendations to enhance the learning and development of the cancer care workforce
- For MCIP to commission a rolling cancer-specific learning and development programme to develop the knowledge and skills for generalist staff in primary, community and palliative care caring for PABC across Manchester
- The development of the ‘MCIP and City of Manchester Certificate for Cancer Care’ passport for a minimum standard for cancer care to support individual professional development
- The production of an implementation plan for 15% of the workforce to achieve the minimum training standard in year one
- For MCIP to work with local partners to look at the sustainability of the training programme and work to influence local partners to agree to the recommendations in the final report so that 75% of the workforce have achieved the training standard by the end of year five
- To establish a method of monitoring and measuring completion of the programme so that it can be evaluated effectively in the future.
The recommendations were provided to MCIP in a full project report that guided the development of an education programme for the local workforce. It was recommended that training should be provided through a bespoke programme commissioned by MCIP, to meet the minimum operating standard developed for the report using national and regional guidelines. Education was identified as crucial in five particular areas of cancer care. These were:
1. Early diagnosis
2. Acute oncology
4. Information and communication
5. Palliative care.
The CLAHRC GM team provided MCIP with detailed templates of each of the individual workforce groups, detailing a) their learning and development needs, b) the available training opportunities, c) the potential for bespoke training courses, and d) how these could be implemented. The recommendations were swiftly put into action by MCIP, as part of a locally commissioned service for education in cancer care for the primary and palliative care sectors. MCIP is now in the process of developing an education programme tailored for those members of the workforce based in the community and social care sector.
Read more about our work as part of MCIP, including accessing a summary report of the project.