Older People Living with Cancer

Peer advocates supporting older people affected by cancer

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And now for some good news…

Today, Angela Jones advocate at Age Connects, Cardiff and the Vale provides us with some uplifting news:

It is with great delight that we are able to inform you that from April 2017 – April 2018 we have been funded via Macmillan Wales to continue the Cancer, Older People and Advocacy project and support older people living in Cardiff and the Vale.  Words can’t express how chuffed we are at this good news. 


The Cancer, Older People and Advocacy project has gone from strength to strength and all professionals and service users who have been involved, have all been very positive about the support we provide to clients, and the benefit and impact this has had on their lives. 

It can be an arduous task setting up a new project, it takes time and dedication, and we are so pleased that we are here for a while longer! We are hopeful to secure further funding beyond April 2018 to continue our vital service to people affected by cancer.

Angela Jones, advocate, Age Connects Cardiff & the Vale


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Our first wedding…

In today’s blog we celebrate a wedding, courtesy of Angela Jones, advocate with Cancer, Older People and Advocacy programme partner, Age Connects Cardiff and the Vale:

Mr Davies and Mrs Geasley are a couple who have been receiving some support from the Cancer, Older People and Advocacy team in relation to organising their finances, as sadly Mr Davies has terminal prostate cancer and his affairs needed sorting out to safeguard his partner’s future. 

We were delighted as part of the support we provided, to be able to assist in the organising of their wedding! A first for the Cardiff & Vale Cancer, Older People and Advocacy project! 


A truly lovely day where family and friends were able to spend a joyous afternoon helping the newlyweds Mr & Mrs Davies to celebrate their marriage and enjoy some quality time together, whilst he was receiving treatment in a local hospice.  Marie Curie Hospice were marvelous in facilitating the wedding and even the press were on hand to highlight the couple’s happiness.

 UntitledAn afternoon that meant so much to many people, and helped secure some happy memories, and as part of the Cancer, Older People and Advocacy project I am privileged to have been allowed to also have been part of the organising of this special event. 

Angela Jones, Age Connects, Cardiff & the Vale

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Celebrating our brilliant volunteers

Back in June we celebrated the great work of our volunteers. Today Samantha Jones from Age Connects Cardiff & the Vale tells us about their celebration event:

As part of National Volunteers’ Week on a very hot Friday in June, volunteers and staff from Age Connects Cardiff and the Vale Cancer Older People and Advocacy project met at Velindre Cancer Centre, Cardiff.

Volunteers and their partners were invited to come together to join this celebration of volunteers and volunteering. Volunteer Coordinator Samantha Jones, Advocacy Service Manager Sue Campbell and Chairman of Board of Trustees Colin Harvey were also present.

Colin gave a speech about our volunteers’ roles and their contribution to the Cancer Older People and Advocacy project before presenting volunteers Karla Flambert and Jeffrey Horton with their Appreciation Awards.

Age Connects

L-R Samantha Jones Volunteer Coordinator, Karla Flambert Volunteer, Jeff Horton Volunteer, Colin Harvey Chairman of trustees

Volunteer Karla came to volunteering when Cancer Older People and Advocacy was at its beginning stage. She has supported many clients during that time and is now at full capacity seeing seven clients! “So many of the older people I speak to, express the feeling that they still have a young mind, but it is trapped in an old body. I hope I always keep that in mind when chatting etc and treat people with the respect they deserve. Retirement is great, but I am not interested in sitting round all day having coffee or lunching. I think that even as we age, we still need to be needed and appreciated. Personally I can’t think of a better way to achieve that.”


Volunteer Jeff has been busy across Cardiff and the Vale promoting the Cancer Older People and Advocacy project to community groups and helping raise awareness of the support our cancer peer advocacy can give at health events and at hospital information centres. He also provides direct advocacy support to clients.

Following the speeches and photographs we all celebrated with some cake and fizzy (lemon and lime not champers!)

Samantha Jones, Volunteer Coordinator, Age Connects Cardiff & the Vale

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“Knowing there is someone out there I can call and help me when it all gets a bit much is priceless, truly and utterly priceless..”

Today we hear from Alan (not his real name) who has been receiving peer advocacy support from delivery partner Age Connects Cardiff & the Vale

I am a 76 year old gentleman who has recently started receiving support from the Cancer Older People and Advocacy project. To say I was in a bit of a state is an understatement.  Sadly my wife passed away in December from a brain tumour, to which we knew nothing about.  My wife and I were also carers for our grandson who had learning difficulties and he also had cancer, sadly he too passed away very suddenly in March.  My life has in a matter of months, been turned upside down and ripped apart.  I have limited family that live close by, so I’ve been struggling with how to cope and deal with the day to day issues of life.  I am also awaiting an operation myself for a knee and hip replacement and am in a great deal of pain.

HANDSMy Social Worker was the one who learnt about the Cancer, Advocacy and Older People’s Project and suggested we ask for some support.  I was reluctant at first as it meant explaining my pain to someone all over again, but I knew I really needed help and my Social Worker, however lovely she was, had very limited time.  I met a really nice gentleman from the Cancer Older People and Advocacy team who was a volunteer.  He was able to assist me with the mountain of paperwork I had accumulated, as this was really getting on top of me and the debt letters were beginning to come in.  He also assisted me with the practical things such as where and who I could donate my wife and grandson’s belongings.  He was someone to chat to also, someone independent who didn’t judge, he just listened and understood my pain. 


He also accompanied me to hospital appointments about my own health which was hugely supportive.  After being a carer for so many years, all of a sudden being alone is a huge shock and adjustment. 

I continue to receive support as I still have a mountainous pile of paperwork, again! But knowing there is someone out there I can call and help me when it all gets a bit much is priceless, truly and utterly priceless.

If you know someone who might benefit from peer advocacy support why not check out if we’re delivering services in your area by clicking here. Do get in touch.

Angela Jones, Age Connects Cardiff & the Vale

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“this empowered her to then make the next step on her own…”

In today’s post John, one of our dedicated peer advocates tell us his story:

I came to volunteering following my retirement. I wanted to use some of the skills I had acquired during my working life in hospitals and my own personal experience of cancer to support others.

As a volunteer advocate for Age Connects Cancer and Older People Advocacy project, I provide non-judgemental support ensuring that the older people’s views and wishes are represented. As a volunteer advocate I ensure there is a better understanding of the clients’ needs, and follow instruction solely from my client; confidentiality and trust is key to this role.


One call was to support a lady with her decision about moving. I went to visit her at home and found she lived in a top floor flat with no lift. She had difficulty walking so was finding herself increasingly staying at home and going out less as she couldn’t face the thought of struggling with all the stairs.

She asked if we could gain some information from her Housing Association, so with her consent they were contacted and the information was obtained on her behalf.  This information was discussed when I met with her face to face and we chatted at length about her possible options. She liked living in a flat as it was small and manageable. She also liked living on a higher level as she felt safe. However, she understood that with no lift and an impending operation which would incapacitate her even further, life in her top floor flat was going to become even more isolated and difficult. We talked further about the possibility of improvements she may find in her daily life if she moved to a property that had access to a lift and following this she felt more confident to phone the housing association to discuss her options and take it further. Having someone to talk to was vital for this lady, she had limited family and initially she didn’t know how to start the process of enquiry about moving, or even whether it was a viable option. Having spent time with her talking this through, I feel this empowered her to then make the next step on her own.

Another call was to visit a lady in Llandough Hospital. She had battled hard against her cancer and was now receiving end of life care in hospital. There was an absence of relatives so she was pleased to see a visitor. I had previously assisted her with some paperwork when she was at home, so it was nice to see her again, albeit in sad circumstances. I sat with her, held her hand and waited to see if she wanted to talk. When someone’s very unwell they may not want to listen to a chatterbox! Just being there and holding hands can help a person feel better.


She said she had declined physiotherapy because she was frightened in case she should fall. I spoke with the ward nurse and voiced the clients concerns – we arranged that the physiotherapy would start again.   I enquired about my clients care as there had been some queries about a move to another hospital, at that point in time she was too poorly for a move to take place and going home was not an option as there was no one to take care of her.  The process of what was currently happening was explained to my client and she understood why these decisions had been made. I made arrangements to visit again the following week, but very sadly my client passed away.

Through my volunteering work I support older people who have been touched by cancer with a range of issues, and hope to continue to do so. I can’t help with everything but I do my best. I make the extra effort to give my time and listen – I always listen.

John, peer advocate, Age Connects Cardiff & the Vale

Living in Cardiff and the Vale? If you or someone you know over the age of 50 is affected by cancer and could benefit from our service, please get in touch to discuss how a volunteer advocate could help you.

Call 029 2068 3681 or email copa@ageconnectscardiff.org.uk



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People were soon making friends and having a chat over a mince pie…

In today’s post Laura Thomas of Age Connects Cardiff & the Vale tells us about Carols and mince pies:

As a project that covers Cardiff and the Vale we wanted to plan something informal in Llantwit Major that would bring people together on a cold winter’s morning, and would reach those living in some of our more rural areas.


We decided on a Christmas themed event with mince pies, drinks and a raffle with donations from the local Co-operative and Filco supermarkets and Sainsbury’s in Cardiff (Age Connects Cardiff & the Vale is currently their charity of the month). This enabled us to offer all refreshments and the raffle prizes for free.


Information on our work and some prizes for the raffle

We opened the doors for 10.30am and after a short wait the room soon started to fill up. Some came with friends and others were dropped off by a relative or came alone. The atmosphere was upbeat and people were soon making friends and having a chat over a mince pie.

Angela, our independent advocate and Alice the volunteer co-ordinator spent the morning talking to the guests, explaining more about the Cancer Older People and Advocacy Project. We had our leaflets to give out and the OPAAL short film ‘Older People Affected by Cancer’ played in the background. Our volunteers were busy; Linda ran the raffle and Jeff took photos of the day.


Tenovus choir

We invited Tenovus Cancer Care Choir to come and sing some carols for us. Their singing was amazing and they really helped to get everyone in the Christmas spirit and had everyone singing along. It also gave us an opportunity to talk to those in the choir about the Cancer Older People and Advocacy project and they in turn were able to speak to some guests about the great work provided by Tenovus. All in all it was a great example of how working with another third sector organisation can benefit those that we support.

Laura Thomas, Age Connects Cardiff & the Vale

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Making a start on our “One Page Profiles”

Laura Thomas from Age Connects Cardiff tells us about the introduction and development of their One Page Profiles. A one-page profile captures all the important information about a person on a single sheet of paper under three simple headings; what people appreciate about me, what’s important to me and how best to support me.

The work on our ‘One Page Profiles’ gave the staff that make up the whole of the Cardiff Cancer, Older People and Advocacy team, both paid and volunteers, the chance to meet each other, some for the first time and then to find out a little more than name, age, address, previous/occupation. One Page Profiles are new to us and are being developed with the support of Helen Sanderson AssociatesUntitled

The day began with the usual introductions. Alice our Volunteer Coordinator facilitated the day. She gave each member of staff a question, 9 questions in total.

Taking turns, a member of staff would ask each of the other members the same question. Alice took the time to write the answers down so that we were all able to concentrate on what each of us was saying.

Jeff and Lynda (Alice is writing their answers)

Jeff and Lynda (Alice is writing their answers)

The questions began with those that were easier to answer: ‘What qualities do you admire in others?’

We all gave the information freely and there was lots of laughter and people generally seemed to relax into each others company.

The questions became increasingly harder to answer without a degree of soul searching and honesty, especially those about oneself and possessions; for example ‘what are some of the things you can’t do without’. For some there were tears, others needed a little more time to think about their answers, but the group were supportive of each other and this helped them to continue.

Angela, Margaret, Claire, John, listening to Jeff give his answer

Angela, Margaret, Claire, John, listening to Jeff give his answer

The questions were designed in such away that people really did leave feeling that they had learned more about each other. What makes a person laugh, cry, what is important to them, what they feel they/we can do to enable us all to work more closely together. And why we perhaps do the things we do?

As a team we experienced emotions from one end of the scale to the other and all those in between. But we left feeling that it helped us to build together, stronger as a team. This can only be positive for the older people affected by cancer that we support.

This is still a work in progress, but one that has been met positively by all involved.

Laura Thomas, Age Connects Cardiff

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Our team may be SMALL but the difference we make to people’s lives has a BIG impact

Laura Thomas and Sue Campbell of Age Connects Cardiff tell us about their tight knit team:

In the first months of starting the project our priority was to promote the service and to recruit our vital peer volunteer support advocates.  We have worked hard to promote the project across Cardiff and the Vale, including participating in a variety of road shows which proved to be successful.


This success has been matched by the number of referrals we have received with the project already supporting 47 individuals. Our peer volunteer support advocates are matched with those people needing support and quickly start making a real difference.   As one of our clients said

“I am so pleased I made that call, I no longer feel I am facing this horrid disease on my own.”

Peer volunteer support advocates support people with a range of activities from:

  • providing emotional support in their own homes
  • being available at the end of a phone
  • helping them to attend various hospital appointments
  • visiting them whilst they have been in hospital,

Our dedicated Volunteers have experience of cancer in some form or another and come from a range of backgrounds, each of them bringing a wealth of skills, knowledge and experience.

Volunteer training

Volunteer training

We continue to build good working relationships with other cancer services, especially Macmillan, who have recently added us to their web page with a link to Age Connects Cancer, Older People and Advocacy web site, and Tenovus cancer care continues to share information with us and provide training opportunities for our volunteers.

Volunteer Coordinator, Alice Matthews

Volunteer Coordinator, Alice Matthews

Our team is small and is made up of 4 active Peer volunteer support advocates , 1 paid advocate and 1 paid volunteer co-ordinator both whom work 14 hours each per week. We also have 7 hours of administration and 5 hours of managerial support. This equates to only 1 full time paid member of staff which highlights how much this project relies on the dedication, experience and good work of our brilliant Peer volunteer support advocates.

Our team may be SMALL but the difference we make to people’s lives has a BIG impact.


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Karla’s Story

My name is Karla   and I am writing this as a volunteer, peer-advocate supporting cancer sufferers and those caring for them. The COPA project is still in its early stages. We have undertaken training which was informative, serious but also fun. I have now seen 3 clients with varying issues. The staff at Age Connects Cardiff & Vale are very helpful and supportive making my fellow volunteers and I feel very much part of the team. I have a passion for the elderly as I believe they do not always get a fair deal, but they have so much to offer, a whole lifetime to look back on and some great experiences to relate. I guess it should be said that I am getting that way too, so really thankful that there are people out there who care enough to help (Hopefully not for a long time yet!!) So many of the older people I speak to, express the feeling that they still have a young mind, but it is trapped in an old body. I hope I always keep that in mind when chatting etc and treat people with the respect they deserve.

Retirement is great, but I am not interested in sitting round all day having coffee or lunching.

Karla - selfie  I think that even as we age,  we still need to be needed and appreciated. Personally I can’t    think of a better way to achieve that.

On a lighter note, I haven’t lived in the Cardiff area for long and am eternally grateful for my         GPS to help me find my way around. It is great to discover new places that I might otherwise      not have visited, and meet some delightful people that I would never, were it not for Age    Connects, had the pleasure of meeting.


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Volunteer Peer Support Advocacy

Our advocate was asked to support a gentleman who had recently been discharged from hospital with a terminal cancer diagnosis. He had made the very difficult decision that he wanted no further treatment after trying a session of chemotherapy and finding that he struggled to cope with the side effects.  The chemotherapy was to help shrink the tumour only. The gentleman decided that he wished to look for a care placement to allow him to be cared for outside the family home. With the assistance of a Volunteer Peer Advocate he was supported to view care homes in his local area to enable him to remain close to his family. He wanted to spend the remaining months of his life with as much dignity and independence as possible.

The gentleman’s wife has advanced Alzheimer’s and lives with his daughter – her full time carer.  He wanted to put no further pressure on his daughter as caring for his wife was a full time job, also with the insight and understanding that his care needs would only increase, this in turn would increase her already heavy workload.


Our advocate was able to support this gentleman to act independently from his family with his choice to move into a residential home. He was accompanied by the advocate to view the care homes and the advocate helped him to discuss his care needs with staff and what the future will hold for him in respect of his terminal condition.

 ‘Their involvement meant the gentlemen could maintain his independence’


 Laura Thomas, Cancer, Older People and Advocacy Programme, Age Connects Cardiff & the Vale