Since the start of the Project there have been 432 referrals into the advocacy and support service, with 95 (22%) being for carers. Of these 29 (30.5%) are male and 66 ( 69.5%) female – a ratio of more than 2:1 of female to male. Currently there are 11 open cases for carers across Staffordshire and Wolverhampton. Looking at the 84 closed cases throws up some interesting statistics.
The majority of referrals were “self-referrals” – 36% followed by referrals from the Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Centres in Stoke, Stafford, Burton and Wolverhampton which were 22 around 23%. Referrals to the Advocacy Service for clients with cancer resulted in 8 referrals for their carers and friends and family of cancer patients led to a further 7 referrals. Macmillan nationally (helpline) have only referred 1 carer to the Project.
84 cases have been closed over the period of the Project of which 39 were closed as the “course of action was completed” which is 46%. Unfortunately only 6 were closed because they felt empowered to act for themselves, make decisions or had regained control. One carer was too ill and there was no engagement with 9. Other reasons were moving out of area, no longer needing the service, bereavement and refusing the service.
Of the 95 cases, the majority live in North Staffordshire (including Stoke on Trent), this is not surprising as the Project was started as a pilot in this area back in 2012. Wolverhampton has only had 5 referrals but this was the last area to come on board as part of the Project in February 2015.
The project is for older people (50+) affected by cancer so if you are a carer of someone with a cancer diagnosis, live in Staffordshire or Wolverhampton and are struggling then please get in touch with us. A phone call to Beth Johnson Foundation on 01782 844036 is all you need to do.
The Staffordshire and Wolverhampton Cancer Advocacy and Support Project provided by the Beth Johnson Foundation applied for a Macmillan Team Learning and Development Grant which was successful and enabled us to participate in an Introduction to Mindfulness.
Mindfulness is an ancient Buddhist practice which is very relevant for life today. Mindfulness is a very simple concept. Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally. This increases awareness, clarity and acceptance of our present-moment reality.
Mindfulness does not conflict with any beliefs or tradition, religious, cultural or scientific. It is simply a practical way to notice thoughts, physical sensations, sights, sounds, smells – anything we might not normally notice. The actual skills might be simple, but because it is so different to how our minds normally behave, it takes a lot of practice.
The following are reflections on the 2 days by some of the Volunteer Co-ordinators……..
“On 14th and 15th July I joined the rest of the Beth Johnson Foundation staff at Acton Trussell to find out about Mindfulness. The session was led by Miro Cansky who gave us an interesting introduction to the technique.
Mindfulness has been used for many years by different groups in a variety of settings and it has gained in popularity more recently.
The art of ‘living in the moment’ is a great skill to have when living or working in stressful situations with people who are experiencing major difficulties in their lives. Although this was just a taster session, I hope that it will be a useful tool both personally and when supporting people affected by cancer.
It was also nice to spend time with work colleagues away from the office and I found this to be a great team building experience; lying on the floor and deep breathing is a great way to get to know your fellow workers!
Thank you to Macmillan for the funding and to Miro for giving us an insight into the practice and advantages of this interesting technique.” Hilary Stefanelli, East Staffordshire Area Co-ordinator
Mindfulness – Collette’s view
I wasn’t sure what to expect; the concept of Mindfulness seemed to be a ‘hippy’ style activity. However, with an open-mind and overnight bag, I joined my colleagues from Staffordshire and Wolverhampton Cancer Advocacy and Support Project and staff from the Beth Johnson Foundation at The Moat House, Acton Trussell for a 2-day Introduction to Mindfulness Workshop.
I hoped that my outcome of the workshop would be to discover a way to de-stress and relax as the vast majority of my time is spent with clients in emotional distress.
My outcome was achieved and exceeded! To sit quietly focusing on the ‘here and now’, using my senses of touch, sight and sound and, allowing myself the time, without the guilt, out of a busy schedule.
Looking forward, I intend to put into practice what has been learnt as the workshop was only an introduction to the process of being Mindful and that further learning is to be had through practice.
Collette Cooper, North Staffordshire Area Volunteer Co-ordinator
Living in the moment – it sounds like a simple enough task but it was not until my involvement with the ‘Mindfulness’ taster sessions that we were able to take part in last week that I realised just how hard it is for me to really clear my mind and focus on simply ‘being’. It really is a whole new mindset.
So, following on from our training last week, I have tried to make it a point of sitting and practicing the simple ‘FOFBOC’ (feet on floor, bottom on chair) meditation technique that we learned, just for a few minutes, at least once a day. The idea is, that by sitting comfortably and purposely paying attention to things as they are at that present time, it will become second nature for me to regularly re-centre my thoughts and help me to become more aware of my feelings and body sensations.
It is thought that practising mindfulness can give more insight into emotions, boost attention and concentration. Sounds good to me! So I thought I should at least give it a go. Watch this space… Amanda Carter, Central Staffordshire Area Volunteer Co-ordinator
My name is Pam and I am the newly appointed Volunteer Coordinator for Wolverhampton for this project run by Beth Johnson Foundation. I have been looking for a challenging role and now I think I have found it! I have worked with Wolverhampton Council for 23 years in Health and Social Care at various levels from Home Help to Management.
I feel I can bring all the experience and skills I have gained by providing local services to elderly people, their carers and families, people with learning disabilities and other disabilities, and training care staff at different levels, to this role and therefore support older people to face cancer and live a life they deserve!