Older People Living with Cancer

Peer advocates supporting older people affected by cancer

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Supporting carers – additional funds secured by Dorset Macmillan Advocacy

Dorset Macmillan Advocacy, a new partnership between Help and Care, Dorset Advocacy and Macmillan Cancer Support, has been successful in its bid for funding to extend its help to carers.

‘We recognise that carers of people with a cancer diagnosis need support in their own right – separate from that being provided to the older person with the cancer diagnosis.  We also understand that carers who have their own cancer diagnosis need additional support to consider the impact of their diagnosis on their caring role and the ongoing needs of the cared for person’ says Keri Harrison, Access and Community Support Manager at Help and Care.

Keri Harrison

Keri Harrison

Evidence gathered locally during the pilot phase led the Dorset Local Cancer Champions Board to seek additional funding for a carers support planning service over and above the three year’s funding already secured from regional Macmillan Cancer Support.   The team was successful in an application for one year’s funding to the Dorset Carers Support Project Fund facilitated by Access Dorset on behalf of Dorset County Council and Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group.

These issues were highlighted for Macmillan Project Coordinator Kathleen Gillett recently when reading the Carers Trust report on mental health Triangle of Care . The section on Carer Support which seems to apply equally to people affected by cancer underlines how important it is to offer ongoing support to carers: ‘It is rarely sufficient to carry out a carer’s needs assessment in a one-off interview. This may be the first occasion when the carer’s interests have been addressed and their primary need may be to off-load and explore better care for the person they care for, rather than their own needs.  As rapport and confidence in the process develop there will be a more meaningful exchange of information and insights.’

Jo Lee

Jo Lee

Jo Lee, Senior Macmillan Advocate says ‘Using person-centred thinking tools we will work with carers affected by cancer to identify what is important to them, what changes they want to make to their life, how they want to be supported and who they want to be supported by.  We recognise that with improving survival rates, carers affected by cancer may be caring for a long time and need ongoing and consistent support.  We also understand that carers support needs will change depending on where they, or the person they are caring for, are on their cancer journey.’


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New partnership creates Dorset Macmillan Advocacy

Keri Harrison, Access and Community Support Manager of Help and Care and Mike Pochin, Development Manager of Dorset Advocacy are delighted to announce that  ‘Dorset Cancer Advocacy Service’ is now going be delivered in partnership with Macmillan and renamed ‘Dorset Macmillan Advocacy’.

The Macmillan Partnership Fund has secured the future funding of the service for the next three years.  These funds will enable Dorset Advocacy and Help and Care to recruit, train and support more volunteer advocates to work with older people affected by cancer in Dorset.

Ed Murphy, Senior Macmillan Development Manager, said ‘I am delighted that we have been able to support this excellent and much needed project.  We are looking forward to working with Dorset Advocacy and Help and Care to support people affected by cancer across Dorset’.

Mike Pochin said ‘This partnership will now enable us to fully establish cancer advocacy in Dorset, and to benefit literally hundreds of people’.

A delighted Keri Harrison from Help & Care and Mike Pochin from Dorset Advocacy

A delighted Keri Harrison and Mike Pochin

Kathleen Gillett

Dorset Macmillan Advocacy

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Why are we seeking to work in partnership with health professionals?

To the volunteers and staff at Dorset Cancer Advocacy who are offering peer advocacy support to older people affected by cancer, in order to give them ‘voice, choice and control’, it is very clear why our working in partnership with health professionals would benefit patients. To health professionals focusing on clinical outcomes it may not be so clear why they should work in partnership with voluntary sector organisations.

Ways for individual health professionals to take action on health inequalities and how they might do this through using the resources provided by voluntary sector organisations is a theme running through the March 2013 report from UCL Institute of Health Equity: Working for Health Equity: The Role of Health Professionals.

Three extracts from the Executive Summary highlight the importance of the issue:

Workforce education and training

Key recommendations: Communication, partnership and advocacy skills will help professionals to tackle the social determinants of health…specific practice-based skills, such as taking a social history and referring patients to non-medical services…should be embedded in teaching courses.

Working with individuals and communities

Individual health professionals can tackle the social determinants of health by helping to create the conditions in which their patients have control over their lives.  Giving information that can help to improve the social determinants of health mainly consists of referring patients to non-medical services.  These should cover a broad range of sectors and issues, beyond lifestyle and disease management programmes….Such activity may reduce the number of consultations with and prescriptions from GPs.

Workforce as advocates

Professionals can use their understanding of the factors that are influencing a patient’s health, and act as advocate in order to help these patients to access services both within and outside the health service.

Kathleen Gillett, Dorset Cancer Advocacy