Unum Cancer Support Service
Unum partners with Reframe (formerly Harley Street Concierge), a provider of personalised cancer support, to provide our cancer support service.
When someone is first diagnosed with cancer it can be very confusing and overwhelming. Reframe can help employees understand their situation so that they can make a decision that is best suited to them.
Tel: 0207 965 0309
In addition to the Unum Cancer Support Service we also provide access to:
Employee Assistance Programme
Providing comprehensive, 24/7 support for employees.
Our Employee Assistance Programme is designed to give information and practical advice on issues such as work, family, relationships, money and health.
The service is provided by LifeWorks and is available via the web, freephone and a mobile app.
Maggie’s cancer charity
Reframe Support services
Dedicated case manager
(an employee’s first point of contact)
Each person using the Unum Cancer Support Service will be given a dedicated case manager who will be their main point of contact throughout.
The first step will be a telephone conversation (an orientation call). The case manager can then help to better understand both the diagnosis and the options available.
This customer didn’t need clinical input but had lots of practical questions. As he had a dedicated case manager he could always speak to the same person – this provided continuity and meant he didn’t need to keep repeating information. The case manager and customer formed a very positive relationship and she got to know about the care he was receiving and understood his concerns. All of which helped to put his questions in to context and she was able to provide the answers he needed. She was also there when he wanted to offload.
Personal cancer care review
This is a telephone assessment with a cancer nurse specialist.
The call is used to identify needs and concerns, and to then agree an action plan to address these. The plan could include any of the services outlined in this cancer pathway.
A lot of information will be covered during the call so it will always be followed up with a written summary.
This customer had prostate cancer. During the personal cancer care review the cancer nurse specialist identified that he had real concerns about incontinence and this was having a significant effect on his day to day life. In particular he was worried about leaving the house as he needed to be near a toilet.
The cancer nurse specialist:
- Sourced him a free RADAR key which meant that he could access any locked toilet. This helped to reduce anxiety and embarrassment about not being able to get in to a toilet.
- Spent time talking through pelvic floor exercises with the customer. These exercises are important in helping with incontinence following surgery, but he was not aware that he needed to do the exercises or of the impact they could have. Over time he noticed that his pelvic muscles were getting stronger and his incontinence was more manageable.
The Unum Cancer Support Service can arrange, and pay for, a consultant to review the diagnosis and treatment plan. For example:
- A pathology review to confirm cell type. A clinician would then be able to discuss the pathology and treatments available.
A second opinion may be required for other issues which come as a result of a cancer diagnosis such as fertility or plastic surgery.
Please note that the Unum Cancer Support Service provides one second opinion per user. It does not cover the cost of any treatment or expenses incurred whilst attending appointments, such as travel costs. Additional second opinions can be provided but the cost would not be covered by Unum or Reframe and would need to be funded.
The Unum Cancer Support Service found a consultant qualified to provide a second opinion for a customer with a brain tumour. The customer was supported throughout and his cancer nurse specialist went to the appointment with him.
The outcome was that he was given a new and different diagnosis which meant that the tumour was much less aggressive. The consultant felt that it was appropriate to continue the current treatment plan until there was any further tumour growth.
The cancer nurse specialist spent time with the customer after the consultation to discuss the appointment and the outcome. Within a couple of days she provided him with a written summary of the consultation and the recommendations and explained that he could call to discuss the information at any time.
Providing regular contact to:
- Check progress
- Address concerns
- Ensure access to the emotional and practical support
The Unum Cancer Support service is always guided by how often the customer wants to be contacted. For example the diary system enables all appointments and treatment dates to be recorded - if the customer wants this. In this case the customer didn't have a large support network and the cancer nurse specialist checked in with her before appointments and a few days after treatment to make sure she was OK and to provide emotional support.
In another case the Unum Cancer Support service was contacted by a customer with breast cancer who was just about to start her first cycle of chemotherapy. At this point she hadn't had a conversation with the hospital nurse and was worried about what to expect.
The cancer nurse specialist helped her to prepare for her treatment by talking through:
- The potential side effects of the treatment
- Diet and which foods she might want to avoid while on chemo
- The risk of infection and the warning signs
The customer was also provided with a list of things to take for the appointment – overall she just felt better prepared. The cancer nurse specialist checked in with the customer after the chemotherapy started to make sure she was OK and offer further support.
(pre, during and after)
This could include:
- Telephone support to prepare for the appointment (For example, talking through the questions to ask and following this up in an email).
- The cancer nurse specialist listening to the consultation by Skype, telephone or in person and making notes (In person support is available for appointments within one hour of London).
- Discussion after the consultation.
The Unum Cancer Support service arranged a second opinion consultation for a customer with a rare type of bone cancer. In the lead up to the consultation the cancer nurse specialist was in regular contact with the customer to:
- put together a list of questions he would like to raise
- help him to understand the possible outcomes from the consultation – so he could prepare himself
On the day of the consultation the cancer nurse specialist met the customer and his wife an hour before the appointment to go over the role she would play during the consultation and to talk through any last minute thoughts and questions.
During the consultation the cancer nurse specialist made notes of everything discussed by the customer, his wife and the consultant. This meant they didn't need to worry about missing key information.
Immediately afterwards the cancer nurse specialist talked through the consultation with the customer and his wife – it had confirmed that he was on the best treatment and trial for his type of cancer. Later that day she emailed a written summary of the consultation to the customer so that he had all the information to read through and refer back to.
Ongoing support was provided during treatment with regular calls to check how things were going and to give further help when needed.
Ongoing personal cancer care support
Access to the Unum Cancer Support Service is provided for up to 2 years from the point of contact.
This includes the support and services of the case manager and cancer nurse specialist.
The Unum Cancer Support service is always guided by how often the customer wants to be contacted and the frequency can vary throughout the 2 years. This customer was feeling isolated after her treatment had ended. She no longer had support from the treating hospital but still had questions about the ongoing side effects following treatment. Her cancer support nurse was in regular contact and was able to able to support her both clinically and emotionally.
Another customer was contacted twice a week during treatment so that he was well supported in the period he was attending regular appointments.
Symptom management support
This could include:
- Assessment of symptoms, triggers and the current treatment plan.
- Providing further information (fact sheets for example).
- Linking with other healthcare professionals and support services such as GPs.
- Clinical nurse support. For example, sourcing and arranging support services such as physio or identifying emotional support. Please note that the cost of support services is not covered by Unum or Reframe and will need to be additionally funded.
The Unum Cancer Support was contacted by a customer with a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer. She had an open fungating wound (where the cancer growing under the skin breaks through the skin). She'd been given dressings which she needed to change every day. This was painful and the dressings seemed to be making the wound worse.
The cancer nurse specialist talked this through with the customer and suggested that she ask for a referral to the tissue viability service where she would be able to get information on the availability of specialised dressings and pain relief. She was also signposted to a specialist wound clinic in London experienced in dealing with this type of wound.
Another customer was contacted by her cancer nurse specialist a few days after treatment to make sure that she was OK. She had just noticed that her hair had begun to fall out and became very emotional over the phone. She didn't think this was an emergency and so hadn't wanted to phone the nurses at the hospital where she was being treated. She wanted basic advice on how to care for her head following hair loss. The cancer nurse specialist listened to her concerns and was able to send links to websites with products for hair loss.
State benefit and grant information
Practical support in applying for benefits such as information on what is available (including Macmillan Grants) and help with completing forms.
This customer was struggling financially as her sick pay through work had ended. The Unum Cancer Support Service arranged a meeting for her with a Benefits Advisor at Maggie's.
This could include talking to a cancer nurse specialist or more formal counselling.
Customers are often distressed when they phone the Unum Cancer Support service. Whether someone has just been diagnosed or is going through treatment, it's a difficult time. This customer was often in tears when she phoned her cancer nurse specialist but by the end of the call she was usually laughing and feeling better. This could be because the conversations moved to focus on normal day to day things or suggestions on how she could make herself feels better. Or it could have been just be having someone to listen - she said several times that this was the greatest help of all.
Coordinating all aspects of private treatment including the arrangement of medical appointments, travel and accommodation. Please note that the cost of travel and accommodation is not covered by Unum or Reframe.
The Unum Cancer Support service was able to help a customer who was not happy with the reconstruction options offered by her NHS hospital following a mastectomy. A plastic surgeon was found in her local area and a consultation arranged.
Another customer was finding the train journey to appointments tiring. The Unum Cancer Support service investigated various transport options and found a door to door hopper bus run by his treating hospital. This removed the expense of the train fares and the worry about arriving on time for his appointments. It also reduced the risk of infections as he would not be travelling on public transport.
Broadening your options
Helping people to determine eligibility for early access drug programmes and clinical trials.
A customer with colorectal cancer followed a recommendation from his cancer nurse specialist that a second opinion should be sought. The Unum Cancer Support service found an expert oncologist to carry out a review with the following outcomes:
- A different treatment plan was recommended
- A much longer prognosis was given
- The customer was advised that he may be eligible for a clinical trial depending on the results of further tests on his tumour
Access to cancer experts
Providing access to qualified cancer experts where more in-depth clinical queries require more investigation.
The Unum Cancer Support service arranged a second opinion consultation for a customer with a rare type of breast cancer. She was supported by a cancer nurse specialist who helped in preparing for the consultation, attended the appointment with her, talked through the consultation afterwards and then provided a written summary.
The consultant identified that there were two different clinical trials for this particular type of cancer which could be suitable for the customer.
As a direct result of the second opinion consultation the customer was able to participate in one of the trials.
The case manager will source and arrange any support services that are needed. Examples of this may include counselling or a plastic surgeon review.
Please note that the cost of the support services is not covered by Unum or Reframe and will need to be additionally funded.
The wife of a customer was struggling with her husband's diagnosis and felt she would benefit from counselling. His cancer nurse specialist carried out research to find a suitable support group in the local area. As a result the wife of the customer joined a support group which focused on the impact of cancer on partners. She felt that she drew strength and understanding from her sessions and was better able to support her husband.
Signposting to support groups
This could include:
Researching support groups to ensure they are appropriate. For example:
- The size of the group
- Who attends (survivors, family members, types of cancer, age range)
- How long the meetings are
- How often the group meets
- Who leads the meetings (a professional or a survivor)
- The format of the meetings
Help in preparing to join a group. For example, taking into consideration:
- Am I comfortable talking about personal issues?
- Do I have something to offer to the group?
- What do I hope to gain by joining a group?
When this customer approached the Unum Cancer Support service he was struggling to speak to family and friends about his lymphoma diagnosis – he felt they just didn't understand. His cancer nurse specialist researched local support groups which focused on helping young people with lymphoma.
He joined one of the groups and made friends with people who were in a similar situation. These friendships meant that his wife met other partners and they were able to share tips and advice on how to support their loved ones as they went through treatment.
Another customer was signposted to breast cancer support groups in her local area. Her cancer nurse specialist carried out research before recommending the groups to make sure they would be suitable. Her involvement in the support group meant that she made new friends and she thinks these will be friends for life. She regularly goes out with them for coffee and cake and importantly they share experiences.
Post treatment support
Post treatment, the service will focus to recovery, health and wellbeing and enabling people to gain control of their lives.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started
This customer spoke to her cancer nurse specialist about her side effects following treatment for breast cancer. These included difficulty sleeping and hot flushes. As a result the cancer nurse specialist found a local centre which offered complimentary yoga, acupuncture and counselling. These therapies not only helped with the side effects but also lifted her spirits.