Sunday, 4 June, marks National Cancer Survivors’ Day, a good time to reflect on the proactive role that employers can play. One way in which employers can support colleagues is to provide risk profiling.
Currently, only a quarter (26%) of employers offer their employees a medical assessment of their risk of serious illness, according to research by Towergate Health & Protection.
Benefits of risk profiling
“Risk profiling is a valuable benefit for employees,” says Debra Clark, head of wellbeing at Towergate Health & Protection, emphasising its importance in early detection of cancer and in guiding lifestyle changes.
This may involve maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding tobacco, limiting alcohol, and protecting the skin from the sun. Employers are ideally positioned to aid in these lifestyle adjustments with initiatives like alcohol- and smoking-cessation programmes and personalised health and fitness apps.
Towergate Health & Protection also claim that the benefits of risk profiling, extend beyond employee wellness, contributing to the overall health of the organisation.
According to their study, 38% of companies believe that understanding the health risk profiles of their employees would allow them to customise their health and wellbeing support, aligning with their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goals.
Tailored health support ensures that those at greater risk of serious illnesses, like cancer, receive the assistance that would be most beneficial to them.
Debra Clark comments:
“The wider benefits of risk profiling, relating to CSR, recruitment and retention, show that while there are clear advantages to the employees themselves, there are also benefits to the employer and to the business. Assessment of risks and early detection of cancer and other serious illnesses can only be a good thing all round.”
Thinking longer term
However, risk profiling and early detection are only part of the journey. It’s also worth noting that there are some who believe health screening by employers has its drawbacks. We’ll be exploring this debate over the next few months on www.makeadifference.media.
When it comes to cancer, the journey of extends far beyond testing. RedArc, the nurse-led health and wellbeing service, warns that support must extend to survivors who may face long-term physical impacts and fears of recurrence.
The aftermath of cancer isn’t limited to physical impacts. Survivors frequently grapple with relationship changes, feelings of isolation, financial concerns, uncertainty, and a diminished confidence, all while living with the lingering physical effects of cancer treatment.
Christine Husbands, commercial director for RedArc, underscores this often overlooked reality:
“It’s a commonly held view that people who have received the all-clear should be able to put cancer behind them and have a new lease of life. It’s true to say that even people being treated for cancer hope this to be the case, but the reality is often somewhat different. Even when the body is beginning to heal, the mind can still be fragile and the emotional recovery can take longer than the physical one.
“Cancer can change an individual’s life irrevocably and therefore it is vital that insurers and employers recognise this and provide for the bumps in the road that can occur in the long-term post-cancer.”
National Cancer Survivors’ Day should serve as a motivator for employers to take more comprehensive measures, helping employees recognise, understand, and mitigate their health risks, while also ensuring they are supported in the long-term aftermath of a serious illness like cancer.
Recognising these complex needs can help employers contribute more effectively to the journey of cancer survival.
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