What’s the project?

Our Community Support Services programme provided funding to expand existing services, and provide new ones across the four nations of the UK to make sure more men living with prostate cancer had access to the care and support they required

With support from the Movember Foundation and Royal Mail, we set up seven community support hubs across the UK. These hubs worked in partnership with community based organisations, the local NHS and local prostate cancer support groups to shape and improve the support available to men affected by prostate cancer and their families.

How did it work?

The Community Support Service teams worked closely with local partners to:

  • Carry out research about the needs of men with prostate cancer in their area
  • Change how services are provided to men with prostate cancer and their families
  • Develop and test new models of supporting men and their families by commissioning services that tackle inequalities and gaps in the support that is already available

By the end of March 2015, our Community Support Services teams had partnered with 100 organisations and allocated over £1,180,000 to deliver 131 distinct projects across the UK. We commissioned services that aimed to:

  • Improve the health and wellbeing of men and their families through self management
  • Target minority and traditionally excluded groups
  • Improve access to psychosexual support and relationship counselling
  • Link men to a range of local, non-clinical services
  • Support those living with advanced prostate cancer
  • Increase levels of fitness 
  • Remove obstacles patients face in accessing or receiving treatment

Services included peer support, counselling sessions, physical activity programmes, cooking classes, health and wellbeing clinics, and survivorship conferences. Some of these projects were new while others sought to expand the scope or accessibility of existing services for men and their families affected by prostate cancer.

How was it evaluated?

We were interested in how we had up built relationships during the programme with key stakeholders, and we wanted to capture learnings from our staff, men and their families, and our partners on what was working well in setting up and delivering new services for men.

The interim evaluation was based on analysis of documentation, telephone and face to face interviews with our staff and external partners involved in the development and delivery of the services for us.

The final evaluation was carried out by Cloud Chamber. The report consisted of Community Support Services programme data, fieldwork with 12 commissioned services and eight case studies which highlighted examples of how the programme had worked.

What did we learn?

  • The programme delivered a wide range of services cost-effectively. This was achieved in part by piggy-backing or amending existing services rather than creating entirely new ones
  • Time was needed to allow local partnerships to engage new service users and referrers such as the NHS and local support groups so that new models for working with men and their families are as effective as possible
  • Funding levels proved about right for service delivery partners, although some underestimated development and ongoing management costs. Others underestimated the amount of time and effort required to promote a new service and encourage men to participate
  • Funding timescales proved too short to guarantee sustainable services and delivery partnerships. The experience has, however, provided us with a wealth of different and effective service pilots from which the charity could draw in future
  • The training, support and knowledge that we have given to our partners has been important in helping them provide relevant, higher quality support that reaches more men who need it
  • Health professionals have access to patients and their support is crucial for attracting men and targeting those that need support. In comparison, untargeted marketing is ineffective

For organisations developing their services for men with prostate cancer, the two evaluations highlighted a number of key learning points:

  • Expert guidance or assessment, for example from a skilled therapist or health professional, can be a good way to persuade men who may be reluctant to try different complementary therapies or counselling. This also ensures that men get the right information and advice from the start
  • Recommendations from peers and encouraging men who are using services to talk to each other are important factors in getting more men to take up an offer of support. Men become more likely to take up new forms of support if it is offered alongside existing care.
  • Specialist nurses, including community specialist nurses that worked for us, can ensure that men get the right support and have access to other options once their involvement with services that we have commissioned has come to an end
  • Providing support for partners, family members and carers is important as they may have their own support needs
  • The personal stories of men who have accessed community services demonstrate how positive the experience can be on a very individual level. Where broader outcomes data is available, the wider benefits are clear too
  • The venue, location, frequency, and timing of interventions all need to be thought about with care – for example, several organisations were able to improve access by opening at evenings or weekends, so that more men who work can attend

Up to this point we had never actively pursued male clients. We knew that men were an under-represented client group and we’d discussed ideas of how we could attract men to use our services, but this focused our minds to do it.

- Jackie Price, Sutton Cancer Support Centre

Find out more

Our Community Support Services programme worked with a range of local partners to offer support to men and their supporters. These partners reported back to us about what they did, the number of beneficiaries, and the outcomes achieved. We will use this feedback to improve our approach to ensure that evaluation and evidence helps us to learn more about what services men need and how they can best be delivered.

Here are a selection of case studies from projects and services that the Community Support Services programme developed across the UK. Please visit our best practice page for case studies from our other programmes.