The next Government must resolve the crisis that is engulfing social care, once and for all

Last week, Age UK launched its General Election campaign – Dignity in Older Age – which aims to tackle some of the key issues that millions of older people continue to face. Things like difficulties accessing the care and support they so desperately need, living in poverty and struggling to make ends meet, and facing a later life of loneliness.

Throughout the campaign we’ll be covering some of the issues in depth, this week we are focusing on the crisis in social care. In this article, Caroline Abrahams discusses how many older people in their 80s and above are currently being abandoned by the care system. Continue reading “The next Government must resolve the crisis that is engulfing social care, once and for all”

Why attendance allowance is so important to older people

Georgie Scott

This blog post was contributed by Ceri Smith, Campaigns Manager at Age UK. 

Age UK’s new report on Attendance Allowance highlights the big practical difference it makes to older disabled people who receive it, and calls on the Government not to go ahead with a proposal to transfer the benefit to councils.  Continue reading “Why attendance allowance is so important to older people”

Working in partnership to tackle excess winter deaths

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue ServiceOn the fourth day of Cold Homes Week, we hear from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service‘s Station Manager in Central Prevent and Protect, Dez Stoddart, about the work that the Fire and Rescue Service is doing with Age South Staffordshire to tackle the problem of excess winter deaths in the county. Continue reading “Working in partnership to tackle excess winter deaths”

Cold homes: a massive public health crisis

A woman living in fuel povertyIt’s Cold Homes Week and Age UK is raising awareness of the devastating effects of the cold on older people. In this guest blog post, Alan Maryon-Davis, who is Honorary Professor of Public Health at Kings College London, explains why the issue of cold homes is a massive public health crisis.

Continue reading “Cold homes: a massive public health crisis”

Loneliness: As bad for you as 15 cigarettes a day

Today, Age UK launches a new campaign asking the Government to take action to tackle loneliness. Senior Campaigns Officer, Samantha Kennedy, explains why loneliness is a health problem for older people and how you can support the campaign.

Age UK Homepage No One Betty

No one should have no one, yet more than a million older people say they haven’t spoken to a friend, neighbour or family member for over a month. Continue reading “Loneliness: As bad for you as 15 cigarettes a day”

Guest blog: My mum, dementia and me

Tommy and his mum, Joan

Today’s blog is from Tommy Whitelaw, who cared for his mum Joan for five years until she sadly passed away in September 2012. Tommy will be speaking about his experiences at Age UK’s Annual Conference on 18th November 2015- you register to attend the conference here.

When my Mum was diagnosed with vascular dementia, I looked at her and thought to myself “it’ll be okay, we’ll get through this.” I soon learnt as her carer that dementia is an unpredictable illness. Her illness brought many challenges and forced us to adapt to ever-changing routines. Many days we would wake up to discover that everything we had grown accustomed to had suddenly changed again.

I wondered whether the struggles I faced were mine, and mine alone. I questioned how other carers who had been on the journey I was just embarking on, had managed to cope.

What struck me throughout was the lack of awareness about and understanding of dementia, and the unhelpful way we perceive the illness in wider society.  My door was always open but no one walked through it, people didn’t come to visit us anymore and I truly believe that was down to the stigma surrounding the illness.

This realisation led to my first venture into the world of awareness-raising, through my ‘Tommy On Tour’ campaign. The campaign involved collecting life stories from people across Scotland who were caring for a loved one with dementia. The hundreds of letters I received proved that the challenges I was facing were far from particular to me, and yet that everyone affected by dementia has a unique story to tell. By sharing our experiences we can help to tackle the misunderstandings surrounding dementia and offer hope to people in the same situation.

Dementia Carer Voices Project

Improving people’s understanding is something I continue to be passionate about. I’m now building on my work with ‘Tommy on Tour’, as Project Engagement lead of the Health and Social Care Alliance’s Dementia Carer Voices Project.

The project provides a platform upon which carers can express their views and experiences of caring for a loved one living with dementia. Through this, it aims to raise awareness among health and social care professionals and wider society, about the impacts dementia has on families and the importance of empowering carers as they carry out this difficult but vital role. I give regular talks as part of my project work, the key focus of which is to highlight the impact that inspirational health and social care professionals can make to the journeys of carers across Scotland.

People who appreciate and understand the unique challenges that dementia brings can be there to prop you up, and I absolutely believe as a carer if I was propped up a little bit with the right help and support, I could have given my Mum the best care and support in the world.

The experience of caring for my Mum undoubtedly brought great challenges, stress, isolation and sadness, but it was a role carried out through love and we enjoyed many touching moments of joy and satisfaction. Those special moments live long in my memory, and gave me a real boost of strength to get through the difficult times, as they continue to do so now.

To book your place at Age UK’s annual For Later Life conference head to www.ageuk.org.uk/forlaterlife.

For advice and support on caring for a loved one, visit our dedicated website pagesIf you have a caring story you want to share, email the Campaigns team at campaigns@ageuk.org.uk to get in touch. You can also find more about Tommy’s work on his blog.

The delayed spending cap – next steps

The decision to delay, and possibly abandon, implementation of the lifetime cap on spending on care, is a retreat from a commitment that the Government made in its manifesto for the last Election. As a result, the risk of endlessly spiralling care bills remains and for as long as no cap is in place older people with assets will justifiably worry that they could be ‘wiped out’ financially if they are unlucky enough to need long term care. It is very disappointing that after all the efforts of the Dilnot Commission to come up with a solution so that older people could have peace of mind, this problem remains.

It should not be overlooked that the Government’s announcement also delays the implementation of two other important commitments.

First, although the Government’s decision not to implement the lifetime spending cap received the most attention, a second decision announced at the same time will actually adversely affect more people. It was that they would not be raising to £118,000 the maximum level of assets that are taken into account in deciding whether people must pay for their own care, as originally planned. Continue reading “The delayed spending cap – next steps”