Older People Living with Cancer

Peer advocates supporting older people affected by cancer

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Palliative and End of Life Care – difficult topics.

The Older People Living with Cancer project is broadening my outlook in many areas. During February I will be attending three events around palliative care and end of life, very difficult and sensitive subjects to talk about and subjects  I personally, have not given much thought to in the past.

The first event is on the 5th  and is a   Westminster Health Forum Keynote Seminar entitled  Palliative and End of Life Care: funding, commissioning and patient experience. The two sessions I am particularly interested in are:

  • The Third Sector: role and opportunities and is led by Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive, Macmillan Cancer Support; and Non-Executive Director, NHS Commissioning Board Authority
  • Improving care delivery and patient experience which aims to cover such issues as:
  1. Alongside existing pathways and care standards, what is the potential to further integrate end of life care?
  2.  How should those involved in care delivery, from health professionals to volunteers, be trained going forward to provide high standards of care as pathways evolve?
  3.  How should the opportunities for patient, carer and family involvement in commissioning be maximised so that the available care pathways are those which effectively meet their needs and lead to the increased personalisation of care?
  4. How should different organisations work together to ensure that patients’ social and spiritual needs are met as well as their physical and psychological ones?

All these issues are really important at a very difficult time for patients and carers.

The second event is a training day here, at the Beth Johnson Foundation, when Lesley Hall, Compassion in Dying Trainer will be leading the day on End of Life. Lesley is from Dignity in Dying, another Silver Dreams funded project  http://www.dignityindying.org.uk/.

The training aims to give  an introduction to Dignity in Dying and Compassion in Dying with a brief overview of their Silver Dreams advocacy project. The main focus will be on how people can be given a voice once they have lost theirs – how can they legally be given a voice?

Information on the Mental Capacity Act, present end of life care and what tools are used, i.e. Liverpool Care Pathway, and what legal tools are available – Advance Decision and Lasting Power of Attorney (Health).  Included will be a discussion on who is the best person to broach the subject which of course could be a volunteer.

The final session is a locally held half day event called Planning Your Journey’s End led by the Dove Service who offer counselling and support to all those affected by bereavement, life-changing illness and significant loss in Staffordshire.

Each course will contain:

  • Information on End of Life Care pathway and Bereavement Care pathway
  • Expectations and rights of patients, caregivers and relatives accessing end of life care services
  • How to care for the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of patients within End of Life
  • How to maintain self-care for relatives and caregivers (physical, emotional and spiritual)
  • Additional services that may be required and how to access them
  • Signposting for support including details of local agencies and community groups
  • The chance to explore the carers own feelings towards grief and loss.
  • The opportunity to share experiences with fellow carers


I am hoping that, in the future,  I shall feel equipped to broach these topics with any advocacy partner in a practical and positive manner but with compassion and sensitivity. It will also help me to share the knowledge and skills with the volunteer Advocates as part of their ongoing learning.

I should also add that Macmillan Cancer Support have 2 excellent publications:

Dying with Cancer and End of Life: The Facts which are available free of charge http://be.macmillan.org.uk

Kath Curley



Age Old Excuse Campaign Web-chat

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Yesterday, 22nd January, I was asked to be part of Macmillan Cancer Support’s web-chat around the Age Old Excuse Campaign. This was  a fantastic opportunity to talk to people affected by cancer all over the country. There were some very pertinent questions asked and I was able to promote advocacy and particularly advocacy for older people affected by cancer.

People affected by cancer are able to set up an account and join the Online Community and start chatting to others in similar situations. Or you can join as a “guest” for the special chats. The next one is on  Thursday, January 31st  from 12 – 1pm and is on Benefits and Older People.

This is definitely the future!

Kath Curley