Older People Living with Cancer

Peer advocates supporting older people affected by cancer

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Advance Care Planning: Vital for Living Well!

Members of staff and volunteers from Dorset Macmillan Advocacy attended an Advance Care Planning Workshop in Dorchester last week. The event was hosted and run by Director of Education Carole Walford and Trainer Carole Hewitt from Dorchester’s Weldmar Hospice in association with the Hospice Education Alliance.


The HEA is a jointly owned initiative between Hospicecare Exeter and Weldmar Hospice Trust Dorset

The HEA is a jointly owned initiative between Hospicecare Exeter and Weldmar Hospice Trust Dorset

The day centred on understanding the issues around discussing and facilitating Advance Care Planning and was well attended by a variety of staff and volunteers from organisations locally making the whole event a great opportunity to learn from the wealth of experience in the room.

The day opened with a discussion on the importance of Advance Care Planning as vastly preferable in most cases to the crisis management which may end up as guesswork on the part of relatives or carers as to the wishes of their loved one. Dying Matters have produced a powerful short film to help raise awareness of the importance of having discussions about your wishes which can be viewed below.


The workshop also included communication skills training to help initiate and manage those difficult conversations with partners and their families; appreciating and utilising underlying differences in individual styles is another tool to improve our communication with older people affected by cancer.

We split into groups to work with and appraise examples of available tools for Advance Care Planning including the NHS Dorset document ‘Planning for Your Future Care’ which can be viewed by clicking here

We also reviewed Macmillan’s own ‘Preferred Priorities for Care’ which is available along with ‘My Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment Document’ in the back of their very comprehensive and clear information pack ‘Your Life and Your Choices: Plan Ahead’.


Comparing and contrasting different documents all designed to achieve the same goal helped highlight strengths and weaknesses in each but also alerted us to the fact that one particular document may not suit all.

Important take home information concerned the legality of Advance Care Planning documents; in particular the ‘Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment’ document which must be witnessed by someone who is not expecting to benefit from the will and includes the words ‘this applies even if my life is at risk’ in order to be legally binding.

A second duplicate workshop will be hosted in Salisbury on July 17th and we shall be encouraging any of our Volunteers who are able to consider attending this informative and useful day.

Jenny Rimmer,  Macmillan Senior Advocate, Dorset Macmillan Advocacy