Older People Living with Cancer

Peer advocates supporting older people affected by cancer

Workshop on caring for the bereaved

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Our advocacy support is available to people affected by cancer, not only those people with a diagnosis, and we are already have partnerships with people who have lost their family member to cancer.

Nicola Symes a counsellor and former Palliative Care Nurse came to Help and Care in July to train staff and volunteer advocates of Dorset Cancer Advocacy at a one day workshop.   In addition Help and Care’s Gateway helpline team who take referrals for the service wished to gain a better understanding of how to engage with callers who may be experiencing difficult emotions.

Nicola Symes

Nicola Symes

Nicola’s programme covered understanding bereavement, the grief process, family dynamics and how to help or hinder.

Nicola  provided many examples from her own experience of what can be helpful, and unhelpful, for those who have lost a loved one. Her warm and relaxed style encouraged us to reflect on how our instincts might be a guide to help us to react well in what can seem like a difficult situation.

Participants said afterwards that Nicola was a good communicator, they appreciated her measured pace and they had enjoyed the day.  Our evaluation asked what in particular participants would take away from the day and comments included: ‘That grief is a personal process’; ‘Be more aware and sensitive when dealing with someone who has suffered a loss’; ‘The knowledge that I can help even if just by being there’; ‘Listening, doing your best and allowing the bereaved person their experience’; ‘More confidence – it’s OK to be unsure what to say’.


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