Older People Living with Cancer

Peer advocates supporting older people affected by cancer

OPAAL trainers unleashed in Dorset

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Malcolm joined Dorset Macmillan Advocacy as a Peer Advocate early in 2015. With personal experience of cancer and of training people in a commercial environment, we were pleased to welcome him to the team.

When it came to looking for candidates to put forward for the OPAAL/Sanofi Train the Trainer project, Malcolm was a natural choice.

Here Malcolm relates his training and also his first experience of putting it into action when he attended a Macmillan Bitesize event at Dorchester County Hospital in November 2015.Web

“Initially as volunteers we were invited to a training session both to develop our skills in delivery and also to share our experiences of bereavement and cancer at first hand; both what you yourself had experienced and also the effects cancer had had on service users you had encountered whether on their health/wellbeing, employment, relationships and a new attitude to life in general.

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Cancer had figured as a central issue to a particular client that I had been supporting; coming to terms with the treatments and after-effects and how relatives, friends and work colleagues viewed the client pre and post treatment.

The training aimed to prepare volunteers for speaking to health care professionals about both personal and client experiences of cancer and recovery.

The first event I attended as a Trainer was held on the 16th November 2015 at Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester.

The objective was to provide a group of health care staff with first-hand experience of the viewpoints of volunteers supporting advocacy partners.

I shared a story about an advocacy partner who was recovering from cancer and wanted to return to work. We spoke about how I worked with her to understand her requirements and what she would ideally prefer to do, as her work was a physical post. Together we produced a strategy that she was able to present to her employers.

The talk appeared to be well received by the audience, possibly providing them with food for thought.

Feedback gleaned from the event included positive comments about how useful it was to hear from previous patients and also to have heard the advocacy stories direct from the Peer Advocates themselves demonstrating how powerful it is to hear evidence from the people not only who have personal experience of cancer but who have come forward to support others using their own experience and skills.”

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Author: Marie McWilliams

OPAAL's National Development Officer

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