Older People Living with Cancer

Peer advocates supporting older people affected by cancer

The Beth Johnson Foundation

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In the last 40 years the Foundation has been at the forefront of innovation in areas such as lifelong learning, housing, advocacy, peer health mentoring, engagement, intergenerational work and ageing across the lifecourse helping to shape  better services for us all as we age.

Dementia Advocacy

The Foundation is an advocacy pioneer, having initiated citizen advocacy in 1989, and dementia advocacy in 1998. External evaluation of the dementia advocacy project in 2001 identified a clear need for access to independent dementia advocates for people who are amongst the most vulnerable in society.

The dementia advocacy project currently works in Stoke and North Staffs with those aged 50 plus with a diagnosis of dementia and whose issues can be extremely complex.

Dementia advocates support individuals who are:

  • Over the age of 50
  • Facing a time of uncertainty, conflict or change
  • Being told or think that they may have dementia of some sort
  • Unable to access relevant information
  • An older person with no family or friends who are able to assist them appropriately
  • In conflict with family or others
  • In any abuse situation.


The Dementia Advocacy Project provides a trained and supervised advocate who works in a person centred approach enabling the client to be heard.

Carer’s Advocacy

The prime objective of advocacy for carers is to enable carers to ’have a voice’, helping them to gain independent information about their rights and entitlements and, if necessary, speaking up for them or representing their views.

Since April 2011, the Foundation has been in receipt of funding from Comic Relief for a three-year Carers’ Advocacy Project. This involves the recruitment of volunteers, and equipping them with the skills and knowledge to become carer advocates.
The project will build on the skills of older people, particularly those who have themselves been carers, and develop them to provide advocacy support to current carers of older people. Alongside this, we will test a peer advocacy model in partnership with other organisations, working with carers from areas that may otherwise be excluded from such essential support.

Advocacy for Older People affected by Cancer

The Advocacy on the Wards project is an OPAAL – Macmillan initiative funded by the Big Lottery Silver Dreams Fund and is being piloted locally throughout Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle Borough and the Staffordshire Moorlands. The 18 month project commenced in July 2012 with the primary aim to “provide effective independent advocacy support to older people affected by cancer.”

The project will make a difference to individual people struggling with the effects of cancer on their lives by supporting them to speak out and get their views heard on decisions relating to treatment and care.

The project is currently recruiting people who have an experience of cancer as peer advocates and provides local training to the volunteers.

Advocacy is available to older people (50 years+)

First Cohort of Volunteer Advocates Trained

The first cohort of volunteer peer advocates have received their initial training and induction to the Beth Johnson Foundation Advocacy on the Wards project. They are providing an advocacy service to older people affected by cancer in Stoke on Trent and North Staffordshire.

Project Lead – Kath Curley

North Staffs and Stoke-on-Trent Advocacy on the Wards Pilot site

Kath qualified as a Speech and Language Therapist in 1977 and for 20 years worked for the North Staffordshire health service where she specialised in Older People and Mental Health care groups. She then joined the Organizational Development team of North Staffs Combined Healthcare NHS Trust working to implement change and developments in services. Whilst in this post she undertook a secondment to Shropshire and Staffordshire Strategic Health Authority Clinical Leadership Programme delivering workshops and training to health and social care staff. During this period she gained a Post Graduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Clinical Practice.

Kath is a qualified administrator of the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory and has independently worked as management consultant facilitating teams and has a specific interest in team development.

Kath joined the Beth Johnson Foundation in June 2010 as a Project Co-ordinator for the Dementia Advocacy project, providing advocacy to older people with dementia within the Staffordshire Moorlands and the Borough of Newcastle. This led to her involvement in the Advocacy on the Wards project, co-ordinating the pilot in North Staffs and Stoke-on-Trent.


Author: kathparson

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

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