A Summary of recent Past Projects and their Learning Outcomes:
Barnet Macmillan Cancer Advocacy
Funded by Macmillan, Advocacy in Barnet ran a three year dedicated advocacy service (2015 – 2018) to Barnet residents over 50 affected by cancer either as a patient, family member or carer. The work supported individuals to ask for what they wanted, to feel in control of what was happening to them by making informed choices and decisions about their treatment and care and to access services.
40 volunteers were recruited, trained and supported, the majority of whom had themselves been affected by cancer, to act as advocates for older people affected by cancer and their carers’. Advocates supported older people affected by cancer in preparing for and attending meetings to ensure that professionals and other agencies understood and respected a person’s views and wishes. Reasons for advocacy support for project beneficiaries included liaison with professionals regarding adaptations and equipment, raising concerns about care and accommodation and information provision.
Evaluation of the work showed there was excellent service delivery and the high level of advocacy support had a beneficial impact on the lives of older people affected by cancer in Barnet. There was a wide range of advocacy issues with accommodation and the need for practical support (making wills, lasting power of attorney) being the most frequent. The work evidenced significant issues with a lack of transport options for people in attending cancer-related medical appointments and treatment.
Additional funding by Barnet & District CancerLink enabled Advocacy in Barnet to provide a free taxi service to 142 people receiving treatment for cancer to attend their cancer-related medical appointments. Findings and case studies from this project were shared with Barnet Healthwatch and contributed to their report on Cancer Transport in Barnet (October 2017).
Dedicated funding for this work has now ended but we continue to work with older people affected by cancer as part of our community advocacy service.
Afua below describes in her own words what having an advocate meant to her:
“I have had prostate cancer, but I am pleased to say the treatment is now going very well and the Doctors have been good to me. I have had some moments when I felt very unwell during the treatment, but I am fortunate that I do have family and friends that have provided me with support which made the process of treatment better for me. I was provided transport by my family to and from the hospital after my treatment.
I was unable to eat much food as I did not have much appetite, but my husband was able to prepare the meals that I was able to eat. The treatment period can be very exhausting, but with the support of family and various other professionals that period of time was made much lighter. The Consultants and the other Doctors were very professional and provided me with the correct information regarding the type of cancer, the treatment and the prognosis.
When I involved the advocates, I felt more at ease as they also provided enough support for me. The advocate was able to spend enough time with me which made me comfortable enough to be able to express my concerns to her and was able to develop a good rapport with the advocate. The advocate had enough knowledge to support my request and had very good communication skills. The advocate made me feel very comfortable throughout the time that they spent with me.
My advocate was able to contact various other professionals on my behalf in order to have matters resolved. My advocate was able to organise the necessary meetings for me to meet other professionals that were involved in my case. When I was not able to go the meetings my advocate was able to go to the meetings on my behalf, and sometimes my advocate would request for another date when it was convenient for me. Even though the matter took a long time to resolve, the outcome was good.
As a result of the direct involvement of my advocate. I was able to understand the services that were provided for me and was also able to understand where I could go to for further support. I felt that other professionals could now treat me with more dignity as a result of going with an advocate to meetings. It was important to observe the change of attitude from some professionals as they provide support to people in my situation, as some have not worked with people with my condition before and may not be aware of the needs that people in my situation require. My advocate made a change to my life. Let them make a change in yours.”
Care Home Advocacy
Advance, a project operating 2010 – 2016 offered weekly advocacy services to older people living in 26 care homes in the London Borough of Barnet. Supported by the City Bridge Trust and Lloyds Bank Foundation, over 50 volunteers were recruited, trained and supported to provide a regular advocacy presence in care homes. A number of volunteers continued with the work after project funding ended, maintaining support to some of the most vulnerable and isolated older people.
Through the work of Advance, several other identified and led to the development of further provision or partnership work to address these. They included:
Future care planning: A one year project supporting people with making decisions about their preferences for future care and treatment emerged from conversations held with newer residents about their wishes.
Hospital discharge advocacy: Please see Supporting Transitions page for further information about this work. The project was established in response to the many residents who returned from hospital in emotional and physical deteriorated states and the subsequent challenges for staff in providing correct care.
Improving staff and resident relations: Comic Relief funded a one year project working to foster closer relationships and create a sense of community for residents, relatives and staff through a range of training and arts activities in 5 care homes.
Deaf awareness: Joint work with Hearing Connect and continued work in care homes undertaken by Jewish Deaf Association to train staff and volunteers to undertake basic maintenance for hearing aids
Care Home Challenge
The Care Home Challenge (2016/2017) funded by Comic Relief sought to create connections and meaning between care staff and residents to foster closer relationships and improve communication. The project was set up to discover whether change could be facilitated by stimulating interaction between residents and staff to improve their quality of life and job satisfaction and for all to feel valued and welcome.
24 training/awareness raising sessions were delivered to 75 care home staff of all levels. The sessions were well received and helped increase staff confidence levels. Staff also found training sessions a useful opportunity to network, share learning with colleagues and “meet with other colleagues from different areas of the home as you get tips and ideas”.
Reminiscence activities with residents took place in one of the five homes. Staff, volunteers and residents worked jointly on creating an art installation which was a very positive experience. The session was themed around holidays and water, so residents and staff were encouraged to talk about and share their memories of the seaside. The project reported an increase in interaction between staff, volunteers and residents as a result of these activities. This resulted in both groups feeling like they know and understand each other better. Staff and volunteers gained confidence to interact on a more personal level with residents, which increased satisfaction with their roles and created a foundation for more meaningful, enduring engagement.