All your treatment and care should be tailored especially to you.

So that your treatment team plans care that covers all your needs, they should formally assess how you’re doing physically, mentally and in key areas of your life. This is called a holistic needs assessment.

A typical assessment is a short survey asking questions about:

  • Practical issues, such as work, finances and any responsibilities you have caring for others
  • Family issues, such as your relationships with your children and partner
  • Emotional issues, such as feeling isolated, depressed, worried or angry
  • Spiritual issues, such as loss of faith or feelings of regret
  • Physical issues, including any symptoms you’re experiencing

You should be offered a holistic needs assessment at key points in your care. Once you’ve identified your needs, you and your treatment team can design a personal care plan together. Your plan should guide any discussions about your care.

If you have a clinical nurse specialist, it will be part of their job to make sure your plan is referred to in meetings about you treatment (multidisciplinary team meetings). Your nurse, or others in your treatment team, will coordinate any additional support or care you need.

Tips and advice

Advice on getting the best care

To help you feel confident you’re getting the best care, you may want to:

  • Ask if you can have a holistic needs assessment if you haven’t recently had one
  • Let your treatment team know if you have new needs – you don’t have to wait for your next assessment for this
  • Develop a care plan together with your treatment team that meets all your needs
  • Give feedback to your treatment team about how well your care plan is working for you, so you can make any adjustments needed

Information Standard

Information last reviewed: October 2015

Next review due: October 2018

Breast Cancer Now's health information is covered by NHS England's Information Standard quality mark. Find out how this resource was developed.