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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 11 June 2007

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Help for new carers

AN essential new booklet to help those who have recently become a carer was published last week by Carers UK.  Timed to coincide with Carers Week, which is taking place this week from 11-17 June 2007, New to caring contains advice from experienced carers and covers all the basics that one needs to know about the financial, practical and emotional aspects of caring – and the range of help available.

In the North West every year, over 268,000 people become new carers providing unpaid care to a loved one who is frail, ill or disabled.  1 in 5 is forced to give up work in order to provide the care needed. Many become isolated and do not know where to turn for help. Some even lose their homes trying to make ends meet.

New to caring is a straight-forward and friendly booklet designed to reassure new carers and prepare them for the challenges that may lie ahead. It is intended as a first step to finding out what help is available and contains sections on:-

• the emotional impact of being a carer
• managing financial pressures
• looking after one’s own health
• practical help – obtaining equipment, making adaptations to the home and organising respite breaks
• benefits and entitlements
• employment and support at work
• making time for oneself
• preparing for the future

The booklet carries an entertaining foreword by Hugh Marriott, the well-known author of ‘The selfish pig’s guide to caring’, whose wife Cathie has Huntington’s disease. Hugh understands only too well the emotions, the battles and the rewards of caring and the time it takes to even recognise oneself as a carer.  The booklet concludes with handy contact details of other sources of information and help.

Imelda Redmond, Chief Executive of Carers UK, says:- “Recent research by Carers UK shows that caring hits very hard in the first year. Over a lifetime, seven out of 10 women and nearly six out of 10 men will become carers yet it remains one of those things people don’t talk about. New carers, understandably, struggle to cope with the changes at home and at work, which can have serious knock-on effects on income, independence and quality of life. An incredible £740 million of benefits for carers goes unclaimed partly because of a lack of clear information.  We are grateful to those carers of many years’ experience who contributed so much to this booklet helping new carers find their way.”

To order or download a copy, please visit www.carersuk.org or telephone 0845 241 0963.

5 star success for Southport care home.....

SOUTHPORT care home Thomas Henshaw Court has been awarded 5 Stars by the Assured Care Quality Assurance scheme for the 3rd year running.  Assessors describe the home as exceptional. Not only has the home secured its 5 Star rating for the 3rd year in a row, the highest level there is within the scheme, it has in fact increased its score, placing it at the top of the 50 care homes assessed by the scheme in the Sefton area.

Thomas Henshaw Court on Norwood Road was awarded its 5 Star certificate last week. The home scored particularly high for respecting the privacy and dignity of residents, for its excellent accommodation and courteous staff.

To be awarded with the Assured Care Quality Assurance Scheme Anchor Homes’ Thomas Henshaw Court had to submit resident and staff questionnaires and carry out twice-yearly internal Quality Assurance Audits. The assessor then awarded the home with the score based on feedback from staff and residents and a visit to the home.

Deputy Home Manager Anna Bradley said:- “We were thrilled to have been awarded Five Stars once again and even happier to have improved our overall score from last year. This rating is particularly important to us because it’s based on the views of residents.”

Assured Care Principal Frank Watts said:- “The home is quite exceptional. It has the highest average score of the 50 homes that I visit. It’s a lovely home. Everything about it is right. The building and the staff are all wonderful.”

THOUSANDS RISK missing out on compensation

PEOPLE providing substantial care for their spouse or partner are less likely to consider themselves as carers, putting thousands across the North West at risk of missing out on the extra cash benefits they are entitled to, according to Age Concern. 

The warning comes as new research reveals that almost a 3rd of over 50s in the North West, are unaware that they could be eligible for benefits if they provide care for a partner or spouse.

The charity is urging all older carers and those caring for an older person to contact the charity for a free benefits check, as part of its ongoing Your Rights campaign.

For many carers, the cost of caring can quickly escalate and become a huge financial headache at an already very stressful time. Yet thousands of carers nationwide are missing out on their share of the annual £740 million in unclaimed carers’ benefits because they do not realise they are entitled to the extra cash or feel the system is too confusing. 

Many pensioners wrongly believe that they are not entitled to carers’ benefits because they are already in receipt of the state pension, yet this is often not the case. And many carers under state pension age are unaware that putting in a claim could give their finances a double boost, by giving them a weekly credit towards their state pension as well as topping up their regular income.

FACTS

* Around 1 in 8 adults in the UK is a carer

* The most likely age to be a carer is between 50-59

* Most carers look after older people, an estimated 70% of those cared for are 65 years or over

* 38% of carers are caring for their parents, while 18% are caring for their spouse

* By 2037 the number of carers could have increased to 9 million due to an ageing population and changes in community care policy

* Recent Carers UK research revealed 72% of carers polled were worse off since they started caring, with 33% in debt

* 53% of those surveyed said that financial worries are affecting their health

Mr and Mrs F, who claimed carer’s benefits with Age Concern’s help, said:- “Claiming the benefits we were entitled to has transformed our lives. Age Concern helped us to claim Carer’s Allowance, which meant we got increased benefits on top of the other benefits we receive. Getting a bit extra each week really helps to relieve the pressure of bills and making ends meet. We would tell anyone to go to Age Concern to find out what they could claim. ”

The charity is urging older carers across the North West to get in touch with their local Age Concern for free, clear and confidential benefits advice.

Age Concerns across the country are running Your Rights events to coincide with Carers Week to encourage older carers and those caring for older people to find out what they are entitled to.

Gordon Lishman, Director General of Age Concern, said:- “The cost of caring can be a big weight to bear for many people, but claiming carers’ benefits can help to lighten the load. Yet many carers across the North West are each missing out on cash benefits of up to £2,500 a year, often because they don’t realise they are entitled to the extra help or just don’t understand the system.  Age Concern benefits advisors can make it easy for carers to find out what they are entitled to and to make a claim. We would urge any older carers, or those caring for an older person, to get in touch with their local Age Concern for clear, free and confidential help and advice, or to call our free helpline number on 0800 00 99 66 for more information. There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain by finding out more about what you could claim.”

As part of its Your Rights campaign, Age Concern has pledged to get an extra £100 million in money benefits into the pockets of older people by April 2008.

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