"I have an elderly neighbour who is frail and relies on me to help her with her shopping and various household chores. However, I am also elderly and not really able to give her all the help she needs. I cannot regularly do her washing, clean her house and I know she would not like me to help with personal care such as giving her a bath. What can I do, my neighbour is happy for me to find out how to get some help?"
Answer : The action you should take is to contact your local Social Services office. Their number will be in the telephone book. Someone will then arrange to come and see your neighbour. If your neighbour wishes you can be at this meeting with her. This meeting will discuss how best to help your neighbour remain as independent as possible within her own home. A Care Plan will be agreed with her and her needs should then be met.
The care may include a bathing service, a carer to carry out household tasks such as her laundry, cleaning, making a lunch, etc. The care plan may also suggest that certain aids and adaptations are accessed in order to maintain as much independence as possible. e.g. grab rails, raised toilet seat, ramp, etc.
Answer : As a guide Community Meals are around £2.10 per meal and are delivered hot. However, it is also possible that you may be able to have meals delivered to you frozen for around the same price. This gives you the choice as to what time you wish to eat your meal. Sometimes there is also a menu that you can choose from with a higher priced "a la carte" range.
The private companies, who deliver frozen meals have varied menus at differing prices. Your local Social Services/Age Concern/Care Direct office should be able to give you details of what services are available in your area.
Answer : You may be entitled to claim the Invalid Care Allowance. As a carer the ICA is the main state benefit for carers and currently is £42.45 per week. To see if you are entitled to this benefit call your local Social Security office and ask for the claim pack DS700. There are rules for qualifying, for example you must be under 65 years of age and you must look after someone for at least 35 hours a week. This person must also be receiving a qualifying disability benefit.
If you think you may qualify, ask for your application pack, fill it in and send off. The decision as to whether you can receive the benefit can take several weeks. If you are turned down, you have one month from the date on the letter to appeal. The benefit if granted can be paid into a bank account or can be obtained in cash via a payment book you take to the post office.
Answer : There are animal sanctuaries, such as Hilltop Animal Haven in Cornwall that will provide a home for a pet after the owners death. There are also animal charities such as The Blue Cross Animal Charity that will find a pet a new home with another owner. Vetting takes place so you can be sure that a happy home will be found. The Blue Cross charity is long established so there is likely to be one in your area. If you want to contact them, look in your local telephone directory or contact the RSPCA who will have details.