Project budget4 130 613 €
ERDF amount2 438 412 €
Improvements in detection and treatment are resulting in increasing numbers of cancer survivors, as survival rates have risen to 70% (1) while mortality rates are dropping (2). As 50% of people diagnosed with cancer are of working age (3), the link between cancer and employment should receive more attention (4). Employment is crucial for people with cancer to fully reintegrate with society, as it provides income, social contact, structure and strengthens feelings of control (5). Research shows that only 62% of people with cancer re-enter the workplace within two years after the diagnosis (1). Cancer patients are 1.4 times more likely to be unemployed than healthy people (6). Currently there is a lack of support for employers and employees are often unable to navigate services that enable them to remain or return to work. I-KNOWHOW will address this by creating new user led services for employers, employees, (para)medical professionals and job coaches.
The overall objective of I-KNOW-HOW is to facilitate people who receive a diagnosis of cancer to remain or return to work by co-creating and piloting new services for (i) employers, (ii) employees, (iii) (para)medical professionals and (iv) job coaches. By means of these innovative services we intend to increase the percentage of people with cancer who remain or return to work by 15% and we will shorten the period that the employee is absent of work given the right adaptions by the employer and with support from a job coach and the (para)medical team. For the 2seas area, this implicates that 4.889 extra people with cancer will remain or return to work. These return-to-work programmes will reduce the costs for both employers (15) and government (16) substantially (see box D.2 for detailed information).
- A coaching service for employers including (i) a toolbox to implement pro-active policies and practical procedures supporting return-to-work measures for employees with cancer , and (ii) a training programme for HR professionals and managers.
- A job coaching service for employees with cancer consisting of (i) an optimized job coaching model assembled from different good practices from the 2 Seas area and (ii) a training programme for job coaches.
- A user-friendly online interactive information service tool using innovative 3D narratives. The perspectives of the different stakeholder groups (employers, employees, (para)medical professionals and job coaches) are interconnected. The narratives are based upon in-depth interviews with the stakeholders and are used as a portal to more detailed information.
Cross border approach
The strength of the I-KNOW-HOW project is to involve 4 different stakeholder groups and to link the workplace with the health system. On the one hand, I-KNOW-HOW wants to share expertise and to build ‘hands-on’ services. Current good practices will be merged and upscaled and cross-border communities of practice will be initiated. The cross-border approach makes it possible to test the new innovative services among a wider target audience of people with cancer (with diverse characteristics as concerns gender, age, type of cancer, type of job, socio-economic status, …) and among (non-)profit companies from different sizes (small to medium to large) in the 4 member states. This is crucial in order to validate the set of new services. Last but not least, another goal is to formulate policy recommendations at the European and national level regarding more flexibility to stimulate progressive employment in order to secure a more inclusive workforce, including people with cancer.
The added value of the I-KNOW-HOW project is
- the focus on early intervention: the return-to-work trajectory starts from the moment the diagnosis is being shared.
- the focus on the existing eco-system around the employee with cancer involving different actors: for instance also the health care professional who is able to address the topic of work in a limited manner can play a crucial role in the return-to-work trajectory
- the focus on hands-on and easily accessible tools: for instance also a very small company without a HR-department can take steps forward when staring to use the I-KNOW-HOW toolbox.
At the moment, we reached the stage of having first prototypes of our tools which will be futher cocreated together with stakeholders in the following phase of the project. These tools involve:
- a website with an interactive information service tool describing the journey of the employee with cancer from the diagnosis till months after the effective return to work. The tool includes both situational and factual knowledge. The user can select the information he/she needs by selecting a specific key moment within that trajectory. The tool is able to offer the right info at the right time.
- training material and tools for professionals and patient experts and volunteers who might take up the role of job coach (which has been tested by 28 participants until now).
- a toolbox for employers in order to create a return-to-work policy, adapted to the context of their company.
The cross border cooperation resulted in a common ground that created the basis for the further development of the tools. In a next stage, adaptations depending on the context of the region will be worked out in detail. But the common ground remains. That is our starting point.
After the cocreation session with potential end-users with more attention for the regional adaptations in the autumn of 2021, the pilot phase of the final prototypes of our tools will take place in the first half of 2022.