Using CIS expertise to train other staff in your organisation

CIS staff spend most of their time explaining cancer and its treatment to service users.  As a result, they become very skilled at doing so.  But at CRUK, the CIS staff are not the only groups of professionals who need to understand cancer. Other teams, like our press officers, social media team, health marketing specialists, policy team and statistical analysts may not come from a cancer background, but it is still useful for them to have a basic understanding of cancer and how treatments for it work.  We decided to harness the knowledge and skills of the CIS staff to address this need.

Our head CIS nurse developed a half day “Cancer the Basics” study event for members of staff outside of the CIS who don’t come from a medical or scientific back ground.  The session covers the basic biology of cancer and cell division, classification of different cancers, staging and grading, and follows on with a general overview of the different types of treatment available and, on a basic level, how these treatments work.

So far we have held 3 class room based sessions training around 40 members of staff and two webinar sessions for about 12 remote working staff.

The sessions have gone really well and been positively evaluated by staff attending with all attendees stating that they were satisfied or very satisfied with the session.  From now on and we intend to do them twice a year.  We have found that keeping the groups small seems to work best with no more than 10 to 15 at a session.

The project builds on a workshop the CIS team developed some years ago to help our fundraising teams respond appropriately when people they are working with who have been affected by cancer become emotionally distressed.  This workshop is now given regularly.

So don’t forget, your CIS team’s day to day experience of explaining cancer and of having emotionally charged conversations with service users can be used to help the rest of the organisation.

Martin Ledwick; Cancer Research UK

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