Care Questions : Article 41Care Questions : Article 41

Your Care Questions Answered by Angela Gifford - ARTICLE No.41

"My family live some distance away and I do not like asking them to do small jobs for me when they come to visit. Last time they were here I happened to mention that I had a fence repaired and they were very angry that I had asked someone to do the job from a card I had seen in the local supermarket. I was happy with his work and his price but their anger has made me a little apprehensive about the risk I might have been taking. Any advice that I can follow please?"

Answer : Many Age Concern offices have a list of reputable tradesmen who have been used and assessed by other customers. Similarly, some County Councils have a booklet, which contains tradesmen they have vetted in some way. So it is worth looking into these two options.

Another way to get a good tradesman is by asking other people about tradesmen they have used and finding out if they were satisfied with both price and quality.

If you have some work need doing, and none of the above apply, then obtain three quotes (giving you the total cost for a finished job) and ask about any insurance cover they may hold in case the job goes wrong. It is a good idea to have another person present at the time of the visit and also at the end of the job, before any payment is made, if you are not totally satisfied with the quality of the work or final bill.

Do not pay in advance as you have not at this stage, seen the quality of any work. Do not feel pressurised into having the work started immediately if you want to wait, (quotations should have a date on how long they are valid for) and never let a contractor take you down to your bank or building society to withdraw money for payment to them.

"When I die I would like to donate my body for medical research. How can I find out if I would be an acceptable donor?"

Answer : The Human Tissue Act 2004 put in place new arrangements to provide information and help for people who wish to donate their body for medical research. From September 2006 information for England and Wales can be obtained by getting in contact with:

The Human Tissue Authority Finlaison House 15-17 Furnival Street London EC4A 1AB Tel: 020 7211 3400.

"I have been involved in both the provision of care in a professional way as a carer when I was working and also on a personal ongoing basis as a recipient. I know that the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) inspects both care homes and agencies but I understand that they accept lay people such as myself, as part of an inspection team. Do you have details?"

Answer : I think you are referring to a group of people referred to as Experts by Experience. Individuals from this group of people are sometimes taken along when inspections are taking place in local council care services. They are called Experts by Experience because as beneficiaries of a care service their experience of using the service gives them expert knowledge and their views are welcomed in connection with the standards of care being provided.

If you wish to find out further information get in touch with the User Involvement Team, CSCI, 33 Greycoat Street, London SW1P 2QF. Telephone 0845 015 0120.

"I am an elderly person with thin skin on my arms and legs which sometimes splits. I would like to buy some arm and leg protectors to enable me to continue to have my daily shower, while protecting the places which on occasions are best kept dry. Do you know where I can get some, preferably to be sent by post?"

Answer : The British Red Cross Shop (Ability) sell Arm and Leg Protectors to slip on to protect surgical dressings, so these products may be of help to you. They have an average life of two months. The price for the Arm Protector is £17.61 and the Leg Protector is £18.79 including vat.

As you said in your letter that you do not have access to the Internet, you can contact your local British Red Cross office and ask for help to obtain the Limb Protectors.

"I have a local cottage hospital where I have recently been a patient and I know most of the staff. I have an issue that I wish to talk to someone about but not on a local level. Who else could I contact?"

Answer : You do not say what your issue is, so probably the best contact address I can give you is The Patient's Association. This is a registered charity and offers patients an opportunity to discuss and share their experiences of the health services they have received. Their Helpline telephone number is 0845 6084455.