Older People Living with Cancer

Peer advocates supporting older people affected by cancer


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Advocates relish in the words “not possible”

Lizzie Sturm gives us the low down on what’s been happening recently at project partner Advocacy in Barnet:

We seem to be spending so much time recruiting! The last two months have seen us interview for a Volunteer and Training Co-ordinator, a Project Manager as well as Volunteers for the Barnet Macmillan Advocacy Project. I hope that people will get to meet Tasneem Goheer, the new Volunteer and Training Co-ordinator who started at the beginning of January over the next few months. The calibre, passion and dedication of volunteers that join us never fails to humble me.

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As a Macmillan partner, we positively benefit from both the learning of COPA projects sharing their experiences at Board meetings as well as directly receiving the support and training of Macmillan. We had our “induction” last week with the Macmillan Involvement Coordinator Raj Bhattacharjee, informing us of what we can access as well as their expectations.  All staff on the Barnet Macmillan Advocacy Project will be attending their formal new professionals’ induction day in due course. We’ve also been introduced through OPAAL to our mentor organisation Dorset Advocacy, a really brilliant idea.

Despite the changes, Barnet Macmillan Advocacy Project is making a difference and the relief that advocates can offer is palpable. However, so many of the issues that we have dealt with can end up being a race against time. Betty Zulu is the Barnet Macmillan Senior Advocate currently supporting Mr P, who has terminal cancer (final stages) with housing issues. His wish is to transfer the tenancy in his name over to his children as he is very worried about leaving them homeless. The housing department are of course adamant that it is not possible to transfer tenancy to children. Advocates relish in the words “not possible” and Betty has been combing through tenancy and transfer laws to challenge this. Mr P has already noted the difference at the housing department since informing them he has an advocate. Betty has now identified that transfer to children living at home can be allowed so a positive resolution and peace of mind to Mr P is on the horizon. We hope that this will be completed within his lifetime. Betty says “I found it very important to provide support to Mr P as his health is quickly deteriorating. He was becoming very breathless even as we spoke. His prognosis is not very good. I feel very gratified that I am able to provide support for Mr P as he informed me that he had been to so many other organisations but unable to get any help”.

Lizzie Sturm, Advocacy in Barnet

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“..supporting older people with cancer across a spectrum of issues..”

In this post Lizzie Sturm, Chief Executive of Advocacy in Barnet, explains what it has been like becoming involved in the Cancer, Older People and Advocacy Programme funded regionally by Macmillan Cancer Support:

Advocacy in Barnet has just reached its’ sixth month milestone; becoming a Macmillan partner in May this year. As a team we have been actively and widely promoting the project.

Volunteers Sarah Humphreys and Nicholas Johnson carrying out mock interviews

Volunteers Sarah Humphreys and Nicholas Johnson carrying out mock interviews

Volunteers Janet Maddison and Ian Lanman

Volunteers Janet Maddison and Ian Lanman

 

Having previously heard of the range of challenges faced by the Cancer, Older People and Advocacy projects at the Cancer, Older People and Advocacy National Board Meetings we were prepared for a myriad of scenarios. Happily, I can instead say the project has been building smoothly in terms of delivery and awareness raising. 8 volunteers have been recruited, trained and actively providing advocacy. As a Macmillan partner organisation, we are privileged to be able to take advantage of the training programme they run with 3 of the new volunteers attending Macmillan’s Cancer Awareness Face to Face training.

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Our soft launch held last month was successful with guest speakers from Barnet Macmillan Citizens Advice project, Cancer Research UK and Macmillan.

We have held two Local Cancer Champions Board meetings comprising 11 members including local Macmillan services, Macmillan GP lead, North London Hospice, Barnet CCG, Barnet Macmillan Citizens Advice project and a volunteer advocate.

 

We have to date received 8 requests through a range of routes and are supporting older people with cancer across a spectrum of issues including financial, social care, practical support, housing and moving into care. In one situation, advocates are supporting a couple both affected by cancer and in their late 60s, going through the most difficult period both emotionally and physically. The Macmillan Cancer Support Volunteer Advocate is supporting the husband who also has dementia in settling-in in the nursing home and liaising with the nursing home and sheltered accommodation regarding moving his belongings; the Macmillan Paid Advocate is supporting the wife with terminal cancer with her End of Life Care wishes and her move from the hospital to the nursing home where the husband has moved. This couple has no relatives and friends to support them and cases like this highlight the importance of Barnet Macmillan Cancer Advocacy services.

Cyril Dainow with an Older Person Affected by Cancer from Macmillan Engagement Event

Cyril Dainow with an Older Person Affected by Cancer from Macmillan Engagement Event

The challenge in this project has unexpectedly been the need to re-recruit for the volunteer co-ordinator role but with interim cover for this position, there has been no disruption to this fantastic service.

Lizzie Sturm, Advocacy in Barnet


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Strange how much irony there is in life!

Lizzie Sturm, Director of Advocacy in Barnet, tells us about her new, personal perspective, of the Cancer, Older People and Advocacy Programme.

Advocacy in Barnet (AIB) are really excited to be the newest OPAAL hub member to become a Macmillan partner. Three weeks ago we held interviews to recruit a volunteer coordinator for the Barnet Macmillan Advocacy Project. The Macmillan Involvement Coordinator (North and East London), experienced volunteer and myself comprised the panel, meeting a range of candidates and spending much of the day talking about cancer pathways. I hope that people will get to meet Alex Pinnick, the new Volunteer Coordinator who starts on 16 September over the next few months.

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Strange how much irony there is in life! Within a few hours our conversations about cancer pathways became personally meaningful.  My Mother (in her late 80’s) was diagnosed with lung cancer that evening. We’re now embarking on our own cancer journey with each participant experiencing their own unique impact and place in this.

It’s been a long three weeks with a myriad of emotions experienced and a lot of learning already. At every step of the way, my belief in the value of advocacy support to older people affected by cancer has been absolutely affirmed.

My parents are intelligent, articulate and independent people but they are immensely affected by this scary diagnosis and prognosis as are all the family. The medical team and nursing care have been superb but there are so many, many significant details and ramifications that need to be attended to. I am fortunate to be in a position where I can try to support them. Even as someone “fairly in the know”, there will definitely be times where I will flounder in this.

I can certainly bring in an unexpected and new perspective to the training of our Barnet Macmillan Advocacy Project. As I am sure other projects have encountered, the spectrum of issues that may require advocacy for an older person affected by cancer is enormous and I am delighted that our new Barnet Macmillan Advocacy Project will be able to make a difference.

 

Lizzie Sturm, Advocacy in Barnet


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We’re delighted to introduce Advocacy in Barnet

Advocacy in Barnet (AIB) has been delivering advocacy for the past 17 years in the London Borough of Barnet. AIB is an independent advocacy service supporting people age 50 and over through free, impartial and accessible advocacy.

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AIB offers a range of advocacy services: Future Care Project raises awareness on the importance of future care planning and encourages people to complete advance care directives; Financial advocacy that offers support with financial matters and especially with financial abuse; Care homes advocacy where volunteer advocates visit elderly residents on a weekly basis and supports them with advocacy and care issues, AIB has received nationwide recognition by the NHS confederation and last but not the least, Ward embedded hospital advocacy that offers weekly visits by volunteer advocates on wards at Edgware Community and Finchley Memorial hospital, this service is unique nationally. In the last year, AIB supported over 6,000 residents across its various services. On an average AIB advocates (paid and unpaid) supports 120 older people per week.

AIB is a volunteer led organisation that has volunteers involved at various levels of the organisation’s operations including administration, recruitment, training, induction, promotion and publicity, press support, fundraising, media liaison, monitoring and evaluation and delivering advocacy.

AIB is thrilled to be getting the new Macmillan Cancer Support funded Barnet Macmillan Cancer Advocacy (BMCA) service off the ground. Betty Zulu our Senior Advocate will be supporting volunteer advocates with BMCA case referrals. We are in middle of recruiting Macmillan Volunteer Coordinator and new Volunteer Advocates. BMCA had its first LCCB meeting; with such passionate, resourceful and supportive LCCB members the meeting was very interesting and productive.

Janet Maddison and Jacqueline Wijewickreme

Janet Maddison and Jacqueline Wijewickreme

Reginald Glick and Asmina Remtulla

Reginald Glick and Asmina Remtulla

 

We have two active Macmillan Volunteer Cancer Advocates and one of them has been working with a cancer patient (who also has agoraphobia and anxiety issues) helping him with issues around housing repairs and housing benefit. The advocate supported this gentleman to get his flat repaired so that it is a safe place for him to live; he had tried for a year and half to access repairs and maintenance service at Barnet Homes but was not offered any help.

 

 

 

Whilst the advocate was supporting him with housing repairs, he informed the advocate that his housing benefit was cancelled but did not know why and wanted help with liaising with the housing benefit team. Our advocate liaised with the housing benefit team via emails, letters and phone calls and eventually, it was established that it was an error on their side and they resumed his housing benefit payments.

Renie Bowen and Betty Zulu

Renie Bowen and Betty Zulu

 

 

Betty with the help of the volunteer coordinator and volunteers’ team will soon plan outreach activities in the borough. Meanwhile, we are planning to organise our first ‘World’s Biggest Coffee Morning’ on 8th or 9th October 2015 with an aim to promote our service, gain referrals and for volunteer recruitment.

 

 

For more information please contact Heena Cornwell or Betty Zulu on 020 8201 3415 / 020 8201 3148. You can email us on bmca@advocacyinbarnet.org.uk .