Providing a trusted source of ongoing support that complements clinical care is crucial. That's why at Breast Cancer Now we have created Here for You - an innovative referral approach that enhances personalised support while reducing pressure on healthcare professionals.
Providing personalised support
Here for You gives people newly diagnosed with breast cancer personalised and timely access to all of Breast Cancer Now’s trusted information and specialist support via a single healthcare professional referral.
Our volunteers use active listening and empathy skills to understand people’s needs and help them access support that’s right for them.
Ongoing support that complements clinical care
We offer both group and one-to-one services, providing opportunities for peer-to-peer support which is proven to be an effective way of reducing isolation and improving mental wellbeing.
Results from Here for You so far show that patients feel their needs are understood by our volunteers, and feel reassured that there is support available for them.
Our services also help to increase people’s confidence and ability to self-manage, providing both physical and mental health benefits.
Here for You gives people time to discuss what matters to them, and access to support that complements their clinical care.
Here for You provides access to expert information, tailored support from experienced healthcare professionals, and opportunities to connect safely with other people in similar situations.
Reducing pressure on healthcare professionals
Our Here for You referral service helps to:
- Provide your patients with personalise information and support without increasing your workload.
- Ensure all patients have access to additional support while creating more time for your team to focus on clinical or complex needs.
- Reduce pressure to keep up with different services
- Create more capacity to deliver on the NHS Long-Term Plan
The Here for You referral process is brilliant. It's simple, clear, and fast! Patients seem to love the service too. It's reassuring to know Breast Cancer Now is there to provide extra support. I would recommend other healthcare professionals take up the service so that their patients can benefit from this valuable service.
Olivia Jeffreys, Breast cancer clinical nurse specialist
How does the Here for You referral service work?
To refer a patient, complete the online referral form. You will be able to refer up to 5 patients with one form.
- An email will be sent to the patient to confirm that you have referred them to us.
- A volunteer will then call the patient within two weeks and suggest the most appropriate services based on the information you provided us in the referral form.
- 3-month follow-up call
- 6-month follow-up call where the volunteer will re-assess the situation with the patient and offer further support if necessary.
Frequently asked questions
Who can I refer?
The service is designed to support everyone newly diagnosed with breast cancer early in their cancer experience. This includes patients with primary and secondary - or metastatic - breast cancer.
For patients with a primary diagnosis, we recommend referrals be made before treatment starts. We understand that pathways for patients with a secondary diagnosis can vary, and so recommend that healthcare professionals use their discretion as to when a referral is most appropriate for their patients. But we’d expect this to be within the first six months of a diagnosis.
How is my patient's data protected?
Breast Cancer Now has a dedicated legal team that reviews all our processes to ensure they are fully GDPR compliant. Before making a referral, you must gain the patient’s consent to share their personal details with us. You will be asked to confirm this within the referral form.
Once we receive a referral, we let the patient know that we’ve been sent a referral on their behalf, inform them how we will handle their personal data, and give them the opportunity to decline the referral to Here for You.
Information is then sent to one of our volunteers so they can contact the patient directly. This information is sent securely using a password protected platform. All Breast Cancer Now staff and volunteers are trained in data security and our processes are continually reviewed.
How do you safeguard patients?
We have robust policies and procedures in place to safeguard service users and ensure we identify and respond appropriately to concerns. All Breast Cancer Now staff are trained in safeguarding awareness and our procedures are reviewed and updated regularly. They are built on a framework of:
Who are your volunteers?
Breast Cancer Now has 45 years of experience in recruiting, training, and supporting volunteers. We currently have over 6,000 volunteers supporting the charity.
We’ve developed a role description that outlines the key skills volunteers need. Volunteers will understand how a patient may be feeling. They aren’t trained counsellors or healthcare professionals, so they won’t provide clinical information or advice. Some volunteers have had experience of breast cancer, although this isn’t compulsory for the role.
We advertise our roles on our website and recruitment sites. Volunteers go through a robust selection, vetting, and interview process to make sure they’re suitable for the role.
How do you train and supervise volunteers?
Volunteers complete an eight-hour training course, in addition to mandatory training on safeguarding and data protection. Training ensures that volunteers understand:
- The boundaries of the role
- The impact of a breast cancer diagnosis
- How to actively listen to concerns
- How to share information on what Breast Cancer Now support is available.
Staff members are on hand during office hours to provide support to volunteers. Our dedicated Volunteer Team also provides ongoing guidance, training, and support. We organise regular supervision sessions with volunteers to gain feedback and support their personal wellbeing. Our experience, dedicated resources, and feedback processes ensure our volunteer activity is safe and effective.
Can patients self-refer?
Here for You is only available following a referral from a healthcare professional. From our experience, many people don’t feel confident contacting charities, or they may not understand the support they can provide. This can often increase inequalities, as some groups are more likely to access support than others. Our intention is that healthcare professionals will routinely offer all newly diagnosed patients a referral to Here for You, helping to reduce these disparities. People can self-refer to other Breast Cancer Now services directly if they decide to take up support later.
Will you signpost to other organisations?
Volunteers are trained to listen and understand the needs of people with breast cancer. While we recognise people may have needs outside of the support Breast Cancer Now offers, our aim is to encourage them to access our specialist and trusted services. If appropriate, we may encourage patients to access support from other trusted organisations, where we are confident about their quality and safety. Our volunteers will also encourage patients to speak to their healthcare teams when appropriate – for example, if their concerns are clinical or relating to their personal treatment plan.
How do you monitor and evaluate Here for You?
We’ve developed an evaluation framework to monitor the quality and effectiveness of Here for You. We will collect and analyse quantitative and qualitative feedback from patients, volunteers and healthcare professionals to measure outcomes and ensure the service is meeting its aims.