Older People Living with Cancer

Peer advocates supporting older people affected by cancer

Using the Voluntary Sector to design local solutions (infographic)

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Two months ago I was privileged to be able to address a large group of delegates attending the national NHS Confederation Annual Conference in Liverpool which attracts upwards of 1500 delegates from around the UK.

I admit I was rather sceptical as to how my presentation on the use of older volunteers working as advocates to support their peers affected by cancer would be received. I had taken the precaution of taking with me an experienced Peer Volunteer to talk of her experiences supporting older people with cancer, naturally she stole the show and considerably enhanced my contribution.

We were both pleasantly surprised by our warm welcome and received several assurances that our presentation was both of interest and relevant in today’s current health climate of placing the patient at the centre of their care.

We managed to network with several key figures sharing our vision of a responsive health service keen to embrace opportunities to work hand in hand with the third sector. We were keen to get health professionals to understand that although the sector itself is good as working across a range of different agencies, using our own example of mutual benefit gained from our Macmillan Cancer Support – OPAAL (UK) partnership, unless health professionals, including commissioners of health services did more to listen to us and work with us our hopes for a truly personalised service for the people we support are limited.

Imagine my delight this morning when I learn that the NHS confederation has released a new briefing, showing how utilising evidence from the voluntary and community sector enhances commissioning decisions that better meet the needs of local populations.


This briefing gives an overview of the knowledge, expertise and insight that voluntary and community sector organisations hold about their local communities and diverse groups of people within these, as well as the different ways this knowledge can be used to enhance Joint Strategic Needs Assessments (JSNAs) and commissioning.
Drawing on examples from around the country, it aims to support health and wellbeing boards in thinking about the way they currently use voluntary and community sector evidence and to help them consider the different ways they could be using it.

The infographic is particularly good as it illustrates simply and effectively our sectors specific areas of expertise including monitoring data, insight, provider expertise, partnership work and co-deign; links with marginalised communities, access to equality networks, asset mapping, and last but not least support from infrastructure organisations like OPAAL (UK).

I’m delighted to note that a whole page is devoted to advocacy (see page 4 and sections of page 5).

All in all the NHS Confederation are to be congratulated on producing such a useful document, lets hope it’s intended readers i.e. All those in developing Joint Strategic Needs Assessments, Health and Wellbeing Board Members and Commissioners take it ‘s messages to heart.

You can download the publication here


Author: kathparson

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

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