Calling for action on winter deaths and illnesses

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Photo credit: zenjazzygeek (Flickr Creative Commons)

 

A NICE Guideline is not mandatory, but it is pretty firm – it uses the language ‘should’. So its Guideline on how Health and Wellbeing Boards – and indeed health professionals across the board – should deal with excess winter deaths and the issue of winter morbidity is very welcome, and offers encouragement to campaigners who have been looking for a greater focus on this age-old problem.

NICE starts unambiguously by pinning the problem to cold and hard-to-heat homes. And although the level of public concern rises when there is a spell of really cold weather, NICE points out that the health consequences begin to appear in ‘normal’ cold weather – when temperatures fall to six or five degrees (and that happens much more frequently that touching zero or below). Continue reading

General Election Series: We want a world where everyone in later life has enough money

Photo credit: Philip Taylor (Flickr Creative Commons)

Photo credit: Philip Taylor (Flickr Creative Commons)

This week’s blog from our General Election Series looks at why ensuring that everyone in later life has enough money is a key part of our ambition for the next Parliament.

While Age UK celebrates the fact that being older is no longer synonymous with being poor, sadly this is still the reality for too many. That is why ensuring that people have enough money is a key part of Age UK’s ambition for the next Parliament and the first of our blogs looking at our five priorities.

There are still 1.6 million older people living in poverty and many others living just above the poverty line. We know this can’t be changed overnight but we believe all politicians should commit to at least halving the numbers in poverty by the end of the next Parliament.

We have highlighted two ways to help achieve this. Firstly let’s ensure there is a decent State Pension that recognises years of work and caring. The full amount of the new State Pension being introduced on 6 April 2016 will be more than £150 a week and will provide a boost for many low earners and women who have spent many years caring or in part-time low paid work. Continue reading

Government consultation on the proposed cap on care costs: but does the cap fit?

Jenny And James - Age Uk Case Study by Sam Mellish

Many of us as we get older will need help from social care to help with things like washing, dressing and preparing meals. But paying for care can be hugely expensive and many people find themselves having to spend all of their savings for this support in later life. The Government is proposing introducing a lifetime cap on care costs in a bid to help those facing catastrophic care costs.

What’s being proposed?

Once an individual spends £72,000 on their care the Government will take over paying their costs. The idea is that this will protect people from using up all of their savings in order to fund their care. Alongside this, people will be able to keep more in savings before being eligible for financial support. Watch our film to find out more.

Whilst this sounds like a good idea in theory, there are several issues with the proposal that affect how the cap will work in practice for older people.

Firstly, you have to be assessed by your Local Authority as having high enough needs to be eligible for care (information from page 23.) This means the cap will only apply to people with higher support needs, and money people have already spent on their care won’t count towards the cap.

Continue reading

General Election Series: Why I think we should make the UK a great place to grow older

This week’s blog, from our General Election series, is a guest post from campaigner John Haywood.

I originally got involved with Age UK when I was advised to visit the Age UK shop in Romford- they’ve got a little office at the back where I was given a benefits check. It was such a relief- I’d been struggling to pay my bills, and they told me I was actually entitled to a whole load of benefits, like exemption from council tax and Pension Credit. It’s made a vast difference to me. Now, I’m telling people my story, and campaigning to make sure other older people get what they’re entitled to.

John Haywood, campaigner

John Haywood, campaigner

As an Age UK campaigner, I’ve been involved in the General election campaign. I sat on the Age UK sofa opposite Big Ben and explained how I thought we could make Britain a great place to grow older. For me, the essential thing I want to see from the next parliament, is a commitment to making sure older people have enough money to be comfortable. And that they know about what is available to help them if they don’t.

I speak to so many people who just don’t know what help they could be getting. Day to day, I give people as much information as possible. I tell them about Age UK and the help they can get- for instance, a friend of mine who is 80, and cares for his 92-year old sister. But this isn’t enough. The government needs to commit to ensuring older people have enough information, and know where to go to get it. I was terrified at the thought of how I’d get by when I retired. I only found out about benefits checks by chance- someone mentioned it to me on the bus, just like I now mention it to people I meet on the bus! It shouldn’t be down to chance, because it is so essential. Continue reading