Older People Living with Cancer

Peer advocates supporting older people affected by cancer

Cancer Champions Boards

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Advocacy on the Wards

Information for Local and National Cancer Champions Board

This paper contains information relating to the setting up of six new Cancer Champions Boards to help oversee and advise on the implementation of a pioneering new form of Independent Advocacy support for older people affected by cancer (OPABC). Below is information relating to the background to this project, how it is funded, the outcomes we hope to achieve, a description of the main activities, what we think is unique about this project, the type of people we are seeking and finally the aims of Cancer Champions Boards.

Background to the project.

OPAAL will create a national peer-group advocacy network supporting older cancer patients along their care pathway in hospitals and communities. Working with 5 advocacy organisations in 4 locations in England, we will recruit, train and retain 80 to 100 active older volunteers to provide this advocacy to 300 to 500 older cancer patients. This will support those patients around treatment options and choices, decisions on their treatment and care, and provide training and professional support to older volunteers.

We’ve created 2 specialist training programmes, one in March for 150 Macmillan Helpline staff, so they can identify the need for and refer appropriately to advocacy support agencies. The second is for the 100 Peer Volunteers. We also aim to create 4 local and 1 national Cancer Champion Advisory Groups to inform the project. Local health and care networks will be used to develop referral pathways to complement national ones. We will develop 4 different delivery models, identifying strengths to inform future development.


This project is funded through the Big Lottery Silver Dreams Programme and Macmillan for a period of eighteen months to run from July 2012 until December 2013.

Project main outcomes.

  • Older People acting as Advocates learn new transferable skills in supporting their peers cope with life changing events.
  • Older Cancer Patients are better informed about their cancer, have developed increased confidence so are more able to contribute to treatment and care decisions. This could lead to new opportunities for employment and/or further learning.
  • Older Peer Volunteer Advocates are able to work together as Cancer Advocacy Champions locally and nationally designing and managing advocacy services for their Peers.

Description of planned project activities:

We intend to undertake the following activities:-

  • National Cancer Champions Advisory Board set up with Peer Volunteer Advocates, Macmillan staff, Advocates and the External Project Evaluator to advise on project implementation.
  • Peer Volunteers in four areas are recruited, trained and supported to become Cancer Champions developing local Cancer Champions Advisory Board to advise on project implementation.
  • 50 older cancer survivors receive advocacy training and develop skills, knowledge and experience of supporting peers emotionally, mentally and practically to manage a cancer diagnosis.
  •  Five local Cancer Advocacy Support networks of hospitals, GP’s, cancer support groups, Cancer Champions set up using new referrals, monitoring and evaluations processes.
  • National Macmillan Helpline Staff and Local referrals networks are referring between 20 -30 older cancer patients per month for advocacy support.
  • Presentations developed and delivered by Peer Volunteer Advocates at two national conferences Macmillan Voices Sept 12 and Macmillan Health & Care Professionals Nov 12.
  • 150 older people with cancer receiving advocacy support from 80 trained Peer Volunteer Advocates in hospitals and their local communities.
  • National/Local Cancer Champions Advisory Boards held 4 meetings, received interim evaluation/management reports, worked with the external evaluator, developed and exercised their advisory role.

Unique characteristics.

This project is unique in that it is working with a community of older people affected by cancer who have not been offered independent advocacy services in the past.

It is also unique in that we aim to recruit and train peer volunteers who themselves have been affected by cancer either through a direct diagnosis or because someone close to them has been diagnosed.

Finally we aim to empower older people to affect the roll out of this project from the outset, recruiting those interested in older people ‘doing it for themselves’ to local and national cancer champions boards. We aim to work closely with these boards reporting regularly on progress, problems and solutions and seeking their guidance and direction.

What kind of people are we looking for?

We believe that older people affected by cancer have a wealth of skills, knowledge and experience that can benefit others. We also think that the chances of running a successful project are increased by involving the people who are intended to benefit from it therefore we wish to recruit these people to CCB.

We are also looking for people with some experience of cancer, volunteering, advocacy, those who are health and social care professionals, academics, independent advocates, service delivery managers and practitioners and commissioners.

Main Aim of Cancer Champions Boards

The main aim of CCB is to bring people together who have an interest in, experience of and who are able to make a positive contribution to the ongoing development of our work with OPABC.

Purpose of the Boards

The purpose of the National Cancer Champions Group is to bring together various “expert representatives” to:

  •  Help promote and advertise the work of the projects.
  • Advise on the general direction of the four Local  Advocacy Cancer Support pilots.
  • Make specific strategic recommendations for the successful delivery of the project.
  • Share the learnings and outcomes of the project amongst the widest group of beneficiaries.
  • Ensuring that information about the project is disseminated as broadly as possible on a local, regional and national level.


We aim to set up four local Cancer Champions Boards one in each of the areas we are running the project i.e. Dorset, Gateshead, Stoke on Trent and Sefton and one National Cancer Champion Board. All five boards will work to directly inform the implementation of the Advocacy on the Wards Project. One representative of each of the local boards will attend the National CCB to inform national decisions relating to project implementation.

We plan to have up to six meetings (locally and nationally) over the life of the project at three monthly intervals with the first national meeting being held in London on Tuesday 9th October 2012. It is expected that all local meetings will have been held in the two weeks prior to this in order that a representative from each of the local groups may attend the first national meeting to give a brief update.

We will also have local and national project management boards that will be expected to report to each of the Cancer Champions Boards on progress of the project as it develops.


Author: kathparson

Chief Executive of Older People's Advocacy Alliance (UK)

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