Having been involved with the advocacy for older people affected by cancer project as a member of the National Champion Board it has demonstrated how important the peer advocates have been in supporting older people living with cancer.
From personal experience I know how challenging it can be to navigate the complexities of the NHS and I am a nurse by background! I often therefore wonder how challenging it must be for anyone who does not have good advice and support to help them come to terms with their diagnosis of cancer and the treatment that is required
It is evident from the many case studies that have been presented from the pilot sites that older people who have received support have benefited in numerous ways. For example, being better informed to enable them to understand treatment options available and providing access to welfare benefits, all of which help reduce unnecessary stress and anxieties not only for the older person affected by cancer but also their family.
There have of course been many other benefits realised from the pilot project. Volunteers who have been affected by cancer have been able to use their experiences to help others. Valuing older people’s knowledge and expertise can have a huge impact on their well-being, and of course these volunteers come from all walks of life and have other life and work skills that can add value to those who are being supported and to the organisations who enlist their voluntary time.
The project has also created a wonderful opportunity to bring voluntary and public sector organisations closer together for the benefit of older people living with cancer. This gives greater understanding of how the various organisations and professionals work and enables the sharing of experiences and expertise.
It has been a privilege to be involved with the pilot project. The enthusiasm and commitment of individuals working at the pilot sites alongside OPAAL and its partners has ensured the success that has been achieved. I wish the funding team well with the current funding bid.
National Cancer Champion