Standard 4 Banner

Standard 4.1

The social support needs of people affected by cancer are proactively considered and addressed continuously throughout their care.


Standard 4.2

All health and supportive care workers participate in education and training programmes to increase their awareness and understanding of the impact of social needs on the person affected by cancer and their whānau.


Standard 4.3

An integrated and coordinated system of continued social support provides timely, accessible services that meet the needs of the full range of populations.


Standard 4.4

Processes are implemented to enable active identification of populations which are more vulnerable within the cancer pathway.


Standard 4.5

Health and supportive care workers proactively use evidence-based tools or screening methods to assist in identifying and clarifying social needs from a holistic perspective.


Equity: Understanding the causal pathways by which socioeconomic conditions affect health will enable us to identify the most effective interventions.




People affected by cancer can find that many aspects of their lives are affected and changed by cancer.

The awareness of all staff involved in cancer services to social needs will improve the likelihood of these needs being meet in a timely and responsive manner, thereby preventing an increase in impact and a crisis response.

For people whose lives already have social challenges or existing stressors, whether at an individual level or within their whānau, the addition of going through a cancer journey can stretch resources even further. Supporting patients to manage the impact of cancer on social factors can be undertaken in a way that strengthens an individual and their whānau’s resilience, increases their health literacy and enables them to learn self-management skills in other areas of their life. Navigators and social care agencies may already be supporting the whānau and providing a key role in helping them to manage the challenge that cancer brings.

Information, social care and support are requirements that change dependent on phase, impact and outcome of treatment.

Person-centered care requires people’s individuality to be respected and their life choices valued in a way which means they are not marginalised during their care.

Many agencies contribute to addressing social needs. Whānau Ora supports the concept that the best health is achieved by inter-sectoral organisations working collaboratively to address all determinants of health including social factors. The services offered by cancer NGOs and social care agencies provide a valuable role in supporting the person affected by cancer.

Social care is a clinical consideration – the two cannot be separated when considering planning and treatment.


Good Practice Points



·        Attendance and engagement in interdisciplinary meetings is expected from all members of the health care team to ensure quality care.

·        Referral pathways are well established and utilised to maximise the support needed by the person affected by cancer from their communities.

·        Referrals to social support services are undertaken with the consent of the person.

·        Information concerning the assessment and interventions related to supportive care is recorded in the patient’s medical record and is accessible to all members of the care team.

·        Health and supportive care workers require knowledge about what services are able to be offered to ensure that referrals are appropriate.

The environment provides space for social care professionals to speak with people affected by cancer in private.

·        Organisations need to model that they recognise and value social care input in patient care.

·        Respectful language must always be used when describing people with social care needs/additional difficulties so as not to increase stigma.

·        The National Travel and Assistance Policy is fully utilised to promote equity of access wherever possible. Its utilisation includes supporting the need for a support person to be with them.


Good Practice Points System


·        Planning for service changes takes into account the potential impact on the supportive care needs for people affected by cancer

·        Investment in social care for patients affected by cancer is prioritised.

·        Research is undertaken to identify effective social support services, interventions and measures to support those affected with cancer.

·        The development of NZ-based tools for assessment is promoted to ensure the assessment itself does not create an inequity.



“People involved in my care

help me to think about what I

might need and how to better

cope with what’s happening.”




Social Support banner


·        Is aware of the social challenges that may impact on the overall well-being of a person affected by cancer and how social determinants impact on overall personal and whānau health.

·        Utilises established referral pathways to gain additional support for the person affected by cancer and their whānau.

·        Is aware of their organisation’s risk assessment processes for managing concerns about family violence, child protection, suicidal risk and vulnerable adults.

·        Is able to identify organisational policy on responding to elder abuse and neglect and know how to gain further assistance.

·        Is able to identify and understand the roles undertaken by the wider inter-professional team, community and social support agencies and primary care providers in supporting people affected by cancer.

·        Is able to assist each person to identify support networks based on a personalised assessment of their needs as opposed to an assumption of networks on a cultural basis.

·        Considers referrals to Māori health and social agencies in a proactive rather than reactive fashion, with the person’s consent.

·        Works with community agencies which support people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds in a joint partnership with their sharing of cultural knowledge and the health worker’s understanding of cancer.

·        Is able to provide information and key contacts on accessing support for travel and accommodation.

·        Is able to identify aspects of someone’s social situation and past challenges that may impact their decision to engage in treatment and refer for support.


Training and Resources Available

·        Information on Social Care in NZ including family services, older adults and other services

·        Family Violence resources

·        Elder abuse resource and services

·        Community Agencies which support refugees


Last Updated October 2016