Insurers in ideal position to assist vital charity

Insurers in ideal position to assist vital charity | Insurance Business New Zealand

Insurers in ideal position to assist vital charity

This article was produced in partnership with Look Good Feel Better

Terry Gangcuangco of Insurance Business spoke with Clare O’Higgins, general manager of Look Good Feel Better to discuss the potential for insurance firms to help a unique cancer patient support programme

People deal with cancer in different ways, but many patients often wish they could just feel normal again for a day.

Some of the physical fallout of cancer and its treatment is not only physically debilitating but also leaves people feeling as if they have a giant neon sign flashing above them wherever they go saying “cancer patient”.

There are a number of charities that support cancer patients on their journey, but one unique organisation that plays an important role on the mental health side helps to remove that giant flashing sign.

Look Good Feel Better (LGFB) provides over 3000 free cosmetics packs a year to cancer patients, and runs classes on everything from eyebrow techniques to how to put on a wig properly.

“It's not about putting on a full face of makeup,” says LGFB general manager Clare O’Higgins.

“It's about saying, ‘can I actually go out?’, ‘can I go to the school gate and actually pick up my child feeling normal?’, ‘can I actually go to work today and know that my wig and everything looks pretty good?’”

O'Higgins is on a mission to spread the message and says one of the best ways to reach the people who need help the most is through insurance companies and brokers.

She says that because insurance companies have branches or agents in many communities around the country and deal with cancer patients as part of their work, they can see if someone is uploading their cancer insurance, or their income protection or their trauma cover.

“The insurance agents are at the coalface if you like - they're dealing with real people's issues of the day,” says O’Higgins. This provides the ideal opportunity to spread the word about LBFB to its target audience.

It’s a win for both parties because the patient gets information about a service that will make their life a little easier and the insurance company makes an impression beyond the basics to show they understand about mental weight of the neon sign.

It also helps with the recovery process because of the positive mindset that comes with restoring a little normalcy. Having a day at a cosmetics session provides a welcome break from a long line of doctor appointments, scans, or chemo sessions.

O’Higgins also cites examples of people who returned to work once they were able to improve their physical presentation, an important part of continuing to engage with society, boosting human interaction, or just showing that you are not giving in to the disease.

An insurance caseworker normally deals with either the family member or the person when they've been diagnosed and can provide information on LGFB as part of normal support as they help policyholders navigate the coverage that they have.

“What we're asking for is for people to share our service.”

The charity currently works with AIA in this manner but can introduce the service and provide examples of its impact to new partner companies to help them gain confidence when explaining the service.

“You will be reaching a large proportion of people who are diagnosed and actually will not have thought about some of the services apart from the really important ones, which is when's my next blood appointment?”

There is also a strong networking element to the programme where cancer patients can connect with each other in a setting that isn’t a medical facility.

“It's about walking beside someone [knowing] that at any stage, something might change. We can support them in that look good, feel better space.”

A lot of thoughts go through the minds of cancer patients when they find out they are sick but finding time to brush up on wig-donning methods or nail care is unlikely to be among them.

“If somebody comes away feeling more confident and they've got the tools and the techniques…  we can give a sense of normality and control,” says O’Higgins.

Look Good Feel Better programmes provide an opportunity for cancer patients to connect, feel more in control and look more like their normal selves with tips, techniques and tools to face cancer with more confidence. It is their aim that everyone has the opportunity to attend a class whatever the stage of the cancer journey, cancer type, or treatment. Look Good Feel Better provides that one day away from treatment and medical appointments where the focus is on the individual and supporting them to look and feel more like their normal selves, connect with others and take time for themselves.