In our Autumn 2013 edition we are featuring our Information, Advice Service and Support Service. Pictured are just a few members of the team.
Information, Advice and Support is more or less what is says on the tin. Each year we deal with approximately 12,000 enquiries from older people or their friends and family. These enquiries are generally over the telephone, but often people will simply drop in to our offices in Bromham Road, Bedford for advice, information and quite often additional support. Information can be as simple as posting out a list of registered care homes in Bedfordshire or even as to how to how they can contact their local Member of Parliament. Other people may want advice on pre-retirement issues or perhaps how to change their gas or electricity provider. People will talk to us about health issues, housing, money concerns, fear of crime and issues surrounding loneliness following a bereavement or how to pay for additional heating over winter. We have fully trained staff and volunteers who can answer most questions to help and support customers to resolve their issues. If customers are not able to visit our office and their issue cannot be resolved over the phone, we have a team of staff and volunteers who can visit customers in their own home. Often these visits are to help an older person complete, what can sometimes be complex benefit entitlement application forms.
If you need free and confidential information and advice on something that is concerning you, please contact us on 01234 360510, or Email firstname.lastname@example.org. (You must live in Bedfordshire and be over 50). The two case studies below provide an idea of the range of help we provide.
Case Study 1
Mrs A, Bedford
Mrs A is 61 and lives alone. Some years ago she was involved in a major road traffic accident which resulted in severe brain damage and multiple physical injuries. This has meant that she has faced great difficulties in coping with day to day living. Mrs A was in financial difficulties because of her inability to plan as a result of her injuries. Our aim was to provide support in dealing with debts and her claim for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Through a number of home visits, we assisted with the completion of the ESA form and worked with Mrs A to raise awareness of the financial situation she was in and her responsibilities. Once finances had been put in order we were able to assist in putting day to day help in place to make life easier. Now that Mrs A’s finances are in better order, she is able to have a regular home help to assist with cleaning and shopping. The contact with Mrs A’s regular home help, assists in providing both a routine to her week and social interaction. These combined have had a positive effect on Mrs A’s health and enable her to maintain her independence and remain in her own home. Without our support Mrs A’s health would certainly have deteriorated further as she was living in poor conditions. Mrs A said that she was very grateful for our support and unfailing patience. She said that over time we had helped her to understand her financial position and that she now feels much happier and able to cope on her own.
Case Study 2
Mrs L, Dunstable
Mrs L, aged 90 had been recently bereaved. She suffers from glaucoma. She had not left her home, other than for hospital appointments, for three years, due to failing eyesight and lack of confidence. She applied for Attendance Allowance (AA) last year but was turned down. She had not requested a reconsideration or appeal. Mrs L contacted us because she did not know who else to turn to and needed support. Following a home visit and a discussion with an Age UK Bedfordshire adviser Mrs L decided to re-apply for AA and asked us to assist her to complete the form. Mrs L was subsequently awarded an additional £230 pcm. We talked to Mrs L about the things she would like to do and as a result she uses some of this extra money to take a taxi to visit friends occasionally and attend regular meetings of her local faith group. Her confidence is re-building as is her social life. Without our support, Mrs L would have become even more isolated and possibly depressed as a result. Mrs L told us “That without your help I would have been left here to die. No one seemed to care!”