Bridges research and development projects

Making the Holistic Needs Assessment (HNA) work for everyone

Last year we came to the end of a large co-design project we did in the Midlands funded by Macmillan Cancer Support. A report done by Macmillan found that there were issues with the delivery of the HNA, a tool which when used well can be life-changing for people affected by cancer.

Many more people are surviving cancer and living many, many years beyond the end of treatment. However, most describe this sense of being left with this ‘other thing’, the cancer is gone but getting life back on track and feeling confident to manage what lies ahead is a big battle. The HNA can help tackle this by helping people identify the many concerns they have, and get support for those.

We used Experience Based Co-Design in this project and this involved doing interviews with staff and people affected cancer before any co-design happens. The interviews are used to model and gain insight over what currently happens on the ground. The most important clips from the patient interviews are used to create a trigger film which is shown at an online joint event with all staff and patients involved. The trigger film really does drive the whole project forward, creating energy and creativity to not only come up with ideas but to act on those.

The project was planned as an in-person project but due to Covid-19 the entire project was shifted to the virtual world. One of the benefits to virtual meetings and interviews was that we were able to involve people who were having active treatment and who would have otherwise been too unwell to attend in person.

5 co-design groups formed looking at various aspects of the HNA from the way it is offered to people, how staff understand the value of it, the timing of it’s use to how the trust could partner more closely with peer support options. There were 12 final products and some such as the peer support leaflet are already in use and having a big impact on patients. Despite being held in the virtual world the groups formed real bonds and many felt a sense of loss when the project wrapped up shortly after the final celebration event which was when the groups showcased what they’d done.

We really enjoyed partnering with Macmillan Cancer Support and it was great to be working alongside an ally but with our unique Bridges self-management lens with our insights into the peaks, pitfalls and possibilities of authentic co-design. We are currently involved in a similar project this time looking at re-designing a breast cancer helpline, the main point of contact between patients and support, particularly during the pandemic. We look forward to sharing the outcomes with you soon.

To find out more about our published research