Care Questions : Article 18Care Questions : Article 18

Your Care Questions Answered by Angela Gifford - ARTICLE No.18

"Is it correct that the Winter Fuel Allowance is going up to £300.00 this winter?"

Answer : Yes, but only if you are over the age of eighty. For every one else between the ages of sixty to eighty the amount of £200.00 will remain the same.

The payment of £300.00 is a one off payment. It does not therefore mean that the same amount will be given next year.

There is a possibility that not all pensioners of 80 plus will receive the payment, even though they have an entitlement. Therefore if you are over 80 or know of someone who is and yet do not receive the notification, then contact the Winter Fuel Allowance Help Line to stake a claim. The number is 08459 151515.

"My Mother has decided that she would like to move into a residential home and I will be looking at some with her. Please can you give me some guidance as to questions I should ask or what I should look out for?"

Answer : Everyone has their own standards of cleanliness and comfort and most people when moving into a residential home want something that matches these. So take a good look at bedrooms, bathrooms and leisure areas. Look at the cleanliness of these areas, do they smell clean and fresh, are the decorations to your liking? Are you allowed to bring in personal processions with you, if so in what quantity?

If you are a non smoker you will be interested in the homes smoking policy and you may wish to know about any alcohol policy that exists.

The home should be quite happy to give you details of staffing levels 'around the clock,' the qualifications that their staff have, what on going training takes place, etc. Perhaps, just as importantly, see if the staff seem happy, cheerful and friendly. Ask about staff turnover to make sure that there are few staff problems. Ask if is possible to speak to the other residents.

Look out for facilities such as stair lifts, en suite bathrooms and ask how and when the laundry is done.

Ask about how much freedom you have in relation to when you wish to get up/go to bed, the food you eat, visitors, times when you wish to go out with friends, can you hold on to your pension book and can you take your pet if you have one? What happens if you wish to entertain a friend or family in your "home?"

Food menu's, the garden, plants in the home, all will give you an impression to help you in your choice.

Finally do not forget to ask about the fees. Are they inclusive or are their extra costs that you need to know about. What notice do you have to give and what notice does the home have to give you. What is the situation if you want to go on holiday or have to spend time in hospital.

All residential homes are regularly inspected by the Commission for Social Care Inspection. By contacting your local office you should be able to obtain the Commission's report on any particular home, so giving you more security when you make your choice. The telephone number is in your local directory.

"I heard recently about Leg Clubs but I have been unable to find out anything about them. Are they part of the NHS?"

Answer : Leg Clubs (the first one appeared about 1995) are a joint partnership between the District Nursing Service, GP Practices and local communities. The aim is to provide a high standard of care for people suffering from a wide range of leg and mobility problems in a friendly and social setting. They are run in a club like atmosphere with a chat and a cup of tea as part of the social setting. Treatment is carried out by District Nurses, transport can be arranged and parking is available.

Problems such as leg ulcers, varicose veins, eczema and mobility difficulties can all be treated. There is no appointment system, just "drop in"

To join you have to be registered with the local GP practice and treatment is free.

The Clubs are only in their infancy with currently just over a dozen operating in England but more are expected to open in the future. To find out if there is one in your area, contact your local surgery.