Care Questions : Article 33Care Questions : Article 33

Your Care Questions Answered by Angela Gifford - ARTICLE No.33

"I receive Direct Payments from my local council and I would like to use some of this money to buy a piece of equipment that I think will help me. Can I do this?"

Answer : Direct Payments are given to you to arrange and pay for your care needs. Prior to receiving the payments you will have been assessed by Social Services as to the care you require.

You can use the payments in any way you choose as long as it is used to meet your assessed needs. Therefore you can use the money to buy or hire disability equipment which will assist in your care. The funding can also be used to maintain or repair such equipment.

However, before purchasing or hiring disability equipment I would advise that you contact your local Social Services (number in your local telephone directory) to make sure that they are in agreement with you and that the particular piece of equipment is appropriate for your needs.

"My sister is terminally ill and wishes to be cared for at home. To help her remain at home her family is considering buying her an electrically adjusting bed with a special invalid mattress, a commode chair and possibly a stair lift. Will we have to pay VAT on these items?"

Answer : All the items you mention can be zero rated for VAT purposes because a person who is suffering from a terminal illness is defined as "chronically sick or disabled" and therefore can qualify for zero rating on the above items.

"I wish to purchase some elastic shoelaces for my Father who has difficulty tying ordinary shoelaces. Where can I get them?"

Answer : Elastic shoelaces are ideal for people who find it difficult to bend down to tie laces yet prefer a more formal shoe. Once the elastic laces have been firmly tied they make the shoe into a 'slip on' shoe which can make life easier.

They can be purchased from Help the Aged in black, brown or white. They come in packs of three pairs and are priced at £8.00 including VAT.

You can order a pack by telephoning 0870 770 0441 or by going on line and emailing to;

"How can I find out about how care homes operate in my area? Is there a central register that will give me information about each home or do I have to rely on their brochures?"

Answer : The care home sector is regulated by The Commission for Social Care Inspection and all care homes have to achieve the 38 Standards that have been laid down by the Commission. Every care home is required to register and by going to the Commission for Social Care Inspection website you can look at any care home inspection report in England.

The report will cover such things as what the service does well and what has improved since the last inspection visit. For all of the 38 Standards there is feedback e.g. have they reached the required level of service as laid down by the Commission?

Scores are given for compliance for each of the Standards. Any statutory requirements that have to be met are listed.

It is possible to download the report information or you can order a paper copy to be sent to you.

With this information you can get a clear picture of each care home enabling you to compare and choose according to your requirements.

"Is it possible to have a front door that opens automatically like some shop doorways do? I am an elderly person and do find some difficulty in using my keys to open my door when I am in a hurry to get inside?"

Answer : There are remote control door systems that can be used for opening your front door (or any other external doors) that are particularly useful if you are elderly or disabled. Quite simply, the door is controlled by a discreet key fob that has a button, which you press. The range is usually about 45/50 meters.

One firm Easy Gates manufactures the Locca System and the cost is approx. £200.00 plus vat. However, there may be local firms in your area that offer a similar service and you could always contact your Crime Prevention Unit for details. If you would like details of the Locca System go to web site;

"Is it possible to buy a shopping bag that can be fixed to a wheelchair?"

Answer :, based in Preston, sell a large, spacious, shopping bag which attaches to the handles of a wheelchair with strong, leatherette hoops. Priced at £17.64 including delivery. Buy online or contact them by telephone on 0800 328 9338.