Mary & Sharon: What matters to you when affected by cancer

We are two Local Area Coordinators, Mary Lynch and Sharon Breeze, working for a Macmillan service called Improving the Cancer Journey which is delivered jointly with Fife Health and Social Care Partnership.  We have been working in this role for over two years.

Mary Lynch, Local Area Co-ordinator (LAC)

We meet people in their own community across Fife who are affected by cancer.  We find out what matters to the person; helping to identify issues that have been causing some concern within the last week.  We do this with a concerns checklist which we use as part of the good conversation approach we have with each person.  This is about using our skills of listening deeply to help us discover what matters most to each individual.

The impact of a cancer diagnosis can be financial, emotional and psychological as well as the obvious physical impacts and it is important that people are enabled to find the right supports, advice and information at the point where they really need them and to remove any barriers for the person.  For example, a barrier may be to go to Maggie’s, we would set up a referral to make it easier for the person.

Sharon Breeze, Local Area Co-ordinator (LAC)

We refer to other agencies including Move More Fife and we will also provide Macmillan booklets that may help people understand more about cancer and the impact of this.

As a Fife wide service, we work across all areas of Fife and aim to identify community assets that are already in existence as well as resources that can support people without the need for formal services.  We are continuing to build good links in communities and work closely with all our partners.  Another part of our work is to identify any gaps in the community that would benefit from our input and/or joint working with other organisations.

Many of the people we have worked with have told us that having a cancer diagnosis can leave them feeling very isolated and not knowing which way to turn.  Having a worker to help identify what matters to them and create a support plan together can make a real difference to their sense of wellbeing and can increase their feelings of being in control of the situation.

Please feel free to approach us and find out if the service would be helpful for you, your patient or your client.  Equally, make a referral and we will contact the person.

To find to out more contact us 01592 578076 or

Check out the Improving the Cancer Journey Leaflet

The Improving the Cancer Journey  service builds on the Transforming Care After Treatment (TCAT) work which was officially launched by the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing in June 2013.  Over the course of 2016/17 funding from Macmillan Cancer Support was invested to focus on the initial three areas:

Lung Cancer

Skin Cancer (Melanoma)

Integrated Cancer Care Support

The Carers’ Act is here: Scott Fissenden

Scott Fissenden, Change and Improvement Manager talks about how Fife has been preparing for the Carers’ Act coming into force.

During January and February Fife’s Health & Social Care Partnership was consulting with carers before the introduction of the new Carer Act.  The Act came into life from 1st April 2018 and introduces a range of new duties designed to support carers’ health and wellbeing and help make caring more sustainable.  The consultation gave carers the chance to share their views about what makes a difference to them in their caring role and what supports we should invest in.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the consultation.  There were 258 responses received.  Some of the key themes and priorities that emerged were:

  • Providing easy to access information so carers have the means to make decisions about to fit caring in with their other personal priorities.
  • Improving the consistency and speed of information from professionals to support caring and improving communications between professionals.
  • Help for carers to make plans for their future and also for carer emergencies.
  • To be more involved in decisions affecting caring and the person the carers care for particularly in advance to being discharged from hospital.
  • Having a greater role for advocates particularly from within the third sector.

We are now in the process of developing a Fife Carers Strategy and an action plan for improvement over the next few years.  We will keep people up to date on our progress through

Health Promotion: Ruth Bennett

Ruth Bennett, Health Promotion Manager, Health Promotion Service gives an insight into how the team are working to reduce health inequalities and improve the wellbeing of people in Fife.

Our work is to support and encourage Fifers to achieve their full potential, stay well and develop skills and confidence so they have more control over their own health and wellbeing.

Health Promotion Service

Our team is made up of over 50 people with a vast variety of knowledge, skills and expertise which we use to reach out to a broad range of people across Fife, from young children to older people, this makes our work wide and varied.

We help individuals to stop smoking in a range of ways which includes our Smoke Free Saturday sessions in Leven Library, Stop Smoking Clinics throughout Fife as well as our ‘What’s In Your Lungs Campaign’ where our mobile unit heads out into the community to offer people a free, no appointment necessary check to see how much carbon monoxide is in their lungs and offer free quick and easy advice to quit the cigs.


The localities team go into the heart of the communities in Fife to identify where their specialist advice and expertise could support community members to work together to achieve the best health outcome for residents.

Our workplace teams visit a range of businesses and services across Fife to help them reduce short and long-term absence, minimise the risk of accidents and near misses and increase worker engagement.  Not only does this support a healthier, happier workforce but also makes financial sense, with workplaces making cost savings as a result.

We also support the education of students and pupils to live healthier lifestyle, recently visiting Fife Colleges’ Levenmouth Campus and working closely with college staff.

For more details on all aspects of our service see our Health Promotion Service leaflet  or contact us on 01592 226484 or and we will direct you to the right person to meet your needs.

Mind your “P’s” and dot your “I’s” – Ian Dall

The “P” word is very important.   As Chair of Fife Health and Social Care Partnership’s Participation and Engagement Network

Ian Dall

Ian Dall

(P&EN), bringing the public closer, as equal partners to the conversation with health and social professionals about services locally and nationally, has never been more in the spotlight.

We hear in the news every other day about how, through the benefits of modern medicine, our ability to live longer is putting the strain on the care system and the public purse.  Centenarians are certainly more common than they used to be and this is a cause for celebration but it is also an issue that raises a serious point of debate.

Increasingly, the thought on how care for, not just the elderly, but people of all ages – those with disabilities, mental health conditions and complex care needs has never been more in the spotlight, but are the public really talking about it?

Where do we fit in the goliath world of NHS and social care?  Where do we start and what can we do about it anyway?

Are you sitting comfortably?  Then I’ll begin.   It was October 2012, when NHS Fife and Fife Council’s social work teams formed what was then, the first public engagement reference group, in which I was a member.   A proactive and welcome move as everyone started to get their heads around this new “I” word – Integration and I would like to take the opportunity to thank the many members, past and present, whose commitment and contribution has been invaluable to the progress we have made so far.

The first few years saw us inform, shape and help deliver three key consultations; the strategy for Fife, the localities across which services will work and the legal scheme against which the new Fife Health and Social Care Partnership must operate.  When it came to participation and engagement we held large scale workshops across the Kingdom to develop our Participation and Engagement Strategy (2016-19).

Now known as the P&EN our network continues to include a range of Fife residents and individuals as well as representatives from existing community organisations such as the Fife Forum, Alzheimer’s Scotland, Age Scotland and the People’s Panel.   We are involved in around 40 programmes of service change where we are able to have our say.

This month I am looking forward to attending a national public representatives workshop being held by the Scottish Government to meet and find out what others are doing across Scotland when it comes to public participation and involvement.

But, there is still a long way to go.   I understand that those leading Partnerships across Scotland are currently having to manage conflicting demands and work pressures, and also deliver to incredibly tight deadlines.  Networks such as the P&EN are the eyes and ears of the public and must be able to challenge.  I will be asking if there is a danger that under this pressure people retreat into their professional and organisational silos and adopt practices that maintain control, rather than work towards change for the better.  Are people prepared to challenge their assumptions around how patients and the public might react to changing the how and where we deliver health care to fit the modern day?

What might happen if a different conversation was initiated, involving local communities coming together with the leaders of local health and care services to engage in a dialogue about opportunities?

Well, in Fife we have already started. It is early days but new Locality Planning Groups are being set up across the Kingdom.  A huge programme of work, phase one brings together all the agencies and organisations that work to deliver services across the 7 localities of Fife, with public representation included.  Moving forward there needs to be more civic voice, and although this is frustrating now, it is a matter of time.

Having meaningful involvement will certainly confront existing assumptions held by all groups about how others might react when they come together. It will also generate different ways of looking at our current dilemmas, potentially enabling us to see new ways forward.

I am certain there are readers of this blog who will have their own examples of local initiatives where citizens, patients, voluntary/third sector organisations and statutory providers have come together in different and innovative ways to find a solution for a local health and care issue.

Trust and relationships are key, and many would argue will be the making or breaking of integration in the years ahead.  By continuing to listen and share experiences, the P&EN will ensure that the people of Fife continue to actively inform and shape the future of services for Fife.

Ian Dall,
Chair of the PEN

Would you like to get involved in the Participation & Engagement Network?  Contact:  Theresa Rodigan
Patient Relations Department & Participation & Engagement Network
1st Floor, Hayfield House

Direct Line: 01592-643355 x 28154


Mental Health – Calum Irving

Calum Irving, Director with See Me puts the spotlight on the importance of joint working to tackle the stigma that surrounds mental health.

Calum Irving

See Me and Fife Health and Social Care Partnership have been working together over this last year to tackle mental health stigma across various aspects of people’s lives.

The chance for See Me to work with the Partnership was great for us, as we are strengthening our focus on changing negative attitudes and behaviours towards mental health, within health and social care.

To really make a change, we need to work with organisations who have the greatest potential to enhance our reach and impact. Any change we make needs to be sustainable so we can work together effectively in communities facing the greatest inequalities.

The biggest event we have worked on with the Partnership this year is the simultaneous Walk a Mile events in March at Stratheden Hospital and in Silverburn Park.

The idea of Walk a Mile started with health care. Working with activist Chris McCullough Young we wanted to create a campaign which would bring people in health care together, to Walk a Mile in each other’s shoes, where people using the services and those working in them, could see each other as the people they really are, not the labels they have.

So it was fantastic to have the two walks in Fife, which aimed to do exactly that, and spread the vital message, that it is okay not to be okay, and mental health can be a topic of everyday conversation.

This message was also heard at our Pass the Badge event, where conversations on mental health were had and encouraged others to keep the conversation going.

We all have a role in tackling stigma and discrimination and together we can improve the culture around mental health, so its impact on every aspect of our lives, including where we live, learn, work and receive care isn’t ignored.