A pilot scheme that focuses on supporting older people undergoing cancer treatment is currently underway at Borders General Hospital.
The 18 month scheme runs alongside the Borders Macmillan Benefits Partnership which over the last four years has secured £6 million of additional income to help those affected by cancer.
Known as the Future Planning Guidance Service, the scheme is being jointly funded by Macmillan Cancer Support and Scottish Borders Council until April 2016.
It involves input from various agencies, including NHS Borders and Scottish Borders Council and will offer face-to-face guidance on the sensitive subject such as creating a Power of Attorney, making a will and planning a funeral.
The Borders Macmillan Benefits Partnership involves Macmillan Cancer Support, Scottish Borders Council’s welfare benefits service, NHS Borders and The Pension Service. It was started in 2009 and helps people affected by cancer to identify and apply for any statutory benefits and grants they may be entitled to.
Complementing the benefits partnership, the future planning scheme’s launch event was opened by Councillor Frances Renton and as well as being attended by staff from the various agencies involved it also featured sensitive, thought-provoking and occasionally humorous presentations confronting the taboo subjects of death, deteriorating health and affordability of funerals.
Speakers included SBC’s welfare benefits service manager Jane Keir, David Borrowman of Solicitors for Older People Scotland, Kirsty Wallace from Macmillan Cancer Support’s information and support service and Barbara Chalmers, founder of end-of-life planning website FinalFling.com.
Councillor Renton, executive member for social work, said: “I see the pilot project as a very important extension of the work currently being carried out by the Borders Macmillan Benefits Partnership.
“Though we may not like to think or talk about it, I do believe we need to talk more openly about future planning for death and ill health and ensure we provide opportunities for our older people to make choices and take control when they can.
“Knowing that friendly, informed staff are available to help with this is very reassuring.”
More information about the Future Planning Guidance service is available from Karen Hendry, Macmillan welfare benefits officer, on 01896 661394.