RedArc calls for more employer support for parents of children with cancer

There are 10,000* survivors of childhood cancer aged 24 and under living in the UK at present, and RedArc believes that employers are well placed to offer ongoing support to their families.

Whilst good psychological support is available for children and teens suffering from cancer via the NHS, local organisations and charities, parents often need their own support too. They take on a huge number of practical and emotional roles to support their child and the rest of family. Having help to talk through their emotions and encouragement to look after their own wellbeing can have a hugely positive affect on their ability to cope.

In addition, it needs to be remembered that, the emotional toll can be felt long after treatment finishes.

Christine Husbands, managing director, RedArc Nurses says:

“By offering well devised added-value services, employers have the ability to transform how a family deals with cancer, and make a difference that is hugely appreciated. Whilst reaching the end of treatment is indeed positive news, parents can become emotionally overwhelmed and often still need to support their child with longer-term side effects.

“Employers may offer financial support via critical illness; and a cheque does indeed provide a much needed prop in the early days of diagnosis and treatment, but long-term emotional and/or practical support is key. And this is particularly pertinent for cancer.

Financial support should be the start not the end point of support

On average, parents can spend £600* in additional expenses per month (such as travel and accommodation) when coping with a child’s cancer diagnosis, and added to that, is the potential loss in household income in order to fulfil carer responsibilities – sadly many even get into debt. Insurances that provide cover for childhood cancer, such as critical illness and income protection will provide financial support, but those that also offer medical, emotional and practical support for the parents are of more value at this time.

Key areas families need support when dealing with childhood cancer:

·        Understanding diagnosis, treatment options and medication

·        Navigating the NHS: especially if treatment is across different specialisms

·        Practical help in sourcing services and equipment needed

·        Providing reassurance and emotional support for both parents individually, to help them cope themselves and support other children

·        Researching and providing information about specialist support groups and charities

Christine Husbands continues:

“During treatment, families focus on the daily aspects of ‘getting through’, but the treatments that help these children survive their cancer can also cause long-term health problems – these might include pain, fatigue and emotional issues which can last a long time. In fact, thirty per cent of survivors of childhood cancer have a chronic health condition and a further thirty* have other ongoing health-related problems – in many cases, the path to recovery is a long one.

“Receiving financial support is exactly what clients expect of their employer that offers such benefits, but by selecting their provider carefully, employers have an opportunity to go far beyond just meeting  an employee’s expectations, providing fuller value and engagement.

“We’ve experienced many cancer cases where a family has been supported via their insurer and the policyholder has eulogised about the care they received. Employers looking to really support their staff would be wise to take heed.”