Older People Living with Cancer

Peer advocates supporting older people affected by cancer

Leave a comment

In what sense is our work preventative?

‘Prevention and Health and Social Care’ was the subject of a development session for the Bournemouth and Poole Health and Wellbeing Board which was facilitated by Viv Aird CEO of Bournemouth CVS and Christopher Beale CEO of  Poole CVS.   Dorset Cancer Advocacy was invited to describe and demonstrate what we do as an example of innovative voluntary sector service provision.

The Board first heard from Alex Massey, Senior Policy Officer of Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) who explained the key recommendations from the association’s recent Taskforce report The Prevention Revolution: Transforming health and social care.  The report calls for preventative support, advice and treatment to be ‘fully integrated into all stages of the care pathway with the aim of addressing the wider determinants of ill health’.  The report emphasises ‘the role played by voluntary organisations in providing preventative, holistic care in community settings; fostering innovation; strengthening patient engagement; and catalysing cultural change.’


Christopher Beale of Poole CVS and Alex Massey of ACEVO

I then illustrated how although our work cannot prevent cancer it is holistic and can help to mitigate many aspects of the impact of cancer.  Independent advocacy support ensures that the cancer patient is more than a mere passenger on their cancer journey, it puts them in the driving seat.  Giving voice, choice and control through peer volunteer advocacy means working with an advocacy partner to help them to make informed choices about treatment and care and then to look ahead and plan for the possible consequences of that treatment.  In doing so we improve wellbeing and help to build resilience which in turn supports a person’s ability to cope with unplanned transitions in life such as a cancer diagnosis.

Kathleen Gillett, Dorset Cancer Advocacy


Leave a comment

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