The Older People’s Advocacy Alliance (OPAAL) strongly supports the new Macmillan report: The Age Old Excuse: The under treatment of older cancer patients.
Kath Parson OPAAL’s Chief Executive said: “It is a national disgrace that decisions concerning access to curative treatment are too often made on the basis of age alone with little consideration given to existing fitness levels.”
OPAAL, the national organisation representing and promoting independent advocacy for older people, and Macmillan have been working together for the last nine months to develop an independent advocacy framework to support older cancer patients to get their voice heard on a range of issues affecting them on their cancer journey including greater access to curative treatments. OPAAL led a partnership of six advocacy provider organisations to develop the framework that will be piloted in Dorset, Gateshead, Stoke on Trent and Sefton. The pilot ends in December 2012 and a report will be produced by March 2013.
Older peer volunteers will be trained as independent advocates to support those affected by cancer to access the treatment they need. OPAAL and Macmillan aim to demonstrate that with independent advocacy support older cancer patients are better able to access the curative treatments they need and deserve.
Kay Steven, Chair of OPAAL, said: “Advocacy is a little understood service in both the general population, among older people and even other professionals older people come into contact with. That is until the need arises, then older people have told us it has been a ‘life saver’ enabling decisions to be taken forward that truly reflect the older person’s own agenda and thus achieving outcomes desired and needed by the older person themselves. Our partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support will help many older people with cancer get the help they need. We hope to develop similar partnerships with other charities working with older people with other long-term conditions.”
OPAAL’s definition of Advocacy
Advocacy supports and enables people who have difficulty representing their interests, to exercise their rights, express their views, explore and make informed choices.
Independent Advocacy supports the person regardless of the demands and concerns of other people and bodies. It challenges the causes and effects of injustice, oppression and abuse and upholds human rights.