My name is Juliet Hammonds and I have worked in Information and Advice at Age UK Bristol for the past three years. I began work here as an advocate for people with care home related issues and have studied for and achieved a City and Guilds in Independent Advocacy while providing that service.
When the funding for that post came to an end I started working for Age UK in a split role as a Dementia Welfare Benefits Adviser and a Cancer Advocate. There is a lot of overlap between these roles, with many clients having both dementia and cancer, or I might see a couple where one is affected by one and the other one is affected by the other. I can often offer clients in these circumstances greater continuity of a service without needing to refer them or signpost them elsewhere.
Since starting this post in May I have been working with approximately twenty clients on a variety of issues. These issues have included attending best interest meetings and writing best interest letters, providing information about benefit entitlements, helping to sort paperwork following a death, helping people apply for supported housing when conventional housing is becoming too difficult to manage, getting help and support for carers, as well as lots of listening, general support, and signposting.
The post has had its challenges; accompanying a client with learning difficulties to a consultation meeting regarding their cancer diagnosis was a new test for me, but helping the client to understand complex information and helping them to express themselves in relation to their health situation was clearly of huge benefit to the client. It is also challenging to work with people who have had a terminal diagnosis, although it is good to see the benefits good information and a listening ear can offer people in that situation. This kind of service is sorely needed for older people in Bristol and I’m looking forward to helping to build the project over the next few years.
Juliet Hammonds, Age UK Bristol, Cancer Older People & Advocacy project