Friday 15th April 2016
Mac Voice, the magazine for Macmillan professionals: Spring 2016
OPAAL (Older People’s Advocacy Alliance) has produced a series of videos demonstrating the value of its advocacy work. Ang Broadbridge, National Development Officer for OPAAL, tells Mac Voice about the project.
'I wish advocacy had been available at that time. They could have supported me a lot. I didn’t always feel I was making an informed choice. Even just a bit of support during appointments would have helped me take it all in.’ Anne
Supporting people like Anne to tell their own stories, in their own words, is at the heart of our Older People’s Cancer Voices Project.
As part of the project, we at OPAAL (Older People’s Advocacy Alliance) – with funding from the Department of Health and support from Macmillan – are helping older people to engage with health and social care professionals.
The aim is partly to increase understanding of the issues important to older people. But we also want professionals to seee the benefits of advocacy support.
Our Cancer, Older People and Advocacy project sees volunteer peer-advocates using their experiences to support older people. Older people affected by cancer tell us they face a huge range of issues, and not only clinical ones. These issues can include questions or worries about advance care planning, making a will and limitations on driving. They can also be about insurance, housing issues, accessing financial support, and telling family and friends about their diagnosis. Advocates can help with all of these issues, by drawing on their own experiences or connecting the person they are helping with the right information and support.
As lead for the Older People’s Cancer Voices Project, I’ve been working alongside older people affected by cancer to explore and share these key messages for health and social care professionals.
These key messages are encapsulated in a new series of videos we have produced about the value of advocacy. We created them by working with older people, advocates and health and social care professionals. We’re aiming to increase referrals to peer advocacy services; to raise awareness of the issues affecting older people affected by cancer; and to support the strategic development of cancer support and care services.
These quotes from the videos give an idea of the powerful stories they show:
‘Living with cancer can be lonely. Peer support is essential... even when family and friends were at hand, they needed me to be strong when I didn’t always feel like it.’
’Our normal lives stopped at the point he was diagnosed as having cancer. Work stopped, our social life stopped, life as we knew it. I felt older than my years almost overnight.’
‘The medical people will look after you, but you need someone to talk to; to say all of the things you can’t say to your family or friends.’
These are just some of the key messages older people affected by cancer would like decision-makers to know. We hope that you will support us by viewing and sharing our videos with your colleagues. In doing so, you will be helping OPAAL to share these vital messages. Watch them at tinyurl.com/opaal-videos
To find out more, and explore whether there is a local Cancer Older People and Advocacy project in your area, please visit the website.