"Both myself and my husband are in our middle fifties, both working and in good health. We have no children and are therefore thinking about how we will spend the later years of our life, with particular thoughts about where we should live.
"As we grow older maintenance of home and garden could be a problem and we are concerned that we should live in a safe environment. We feel that now is the time to start to find out about our options, before retirement, and would welcome suggestions."
Answer : An increasingly popular option is that of retirement housing, of which there is a variety. Retirement housing tends to be good quality, secure and in general you have no maintenance worries.
You can rent or you can buy. For those people who are retired and less able there is also sheltered housing some of which can provide 24 hour care and support. Some sheltered housing also has either a residential or a nursing home in the same grounds. This means that should a person require very high dependency care they do not have to move too far away from their community.
For people who do have dependents and are thinking of buying a retirement home make sure you look at the resale situation. It is quite common for many retirement homes to have a condition in the sale whereby resale can only be to buyers over the age of 55 years for example.
For details of retirement homes in an area of your choice telephone either Age Concern or Help the Aged who can give you details.
Answer : If you are over 60 years of age, chronically sick, disabled, sight impaired or blind, hearing impaired or deaf you are entitled to a free annual gas check if you have gas supplies in your home. To arrange this contact your supplier.
You may be entitled to the Winter Fuel Payment of up to £200 (or £300 for the over 80s now). If you wish to apply contact the Winter Fuel Payment Hotline on 08458 15 15 15
If you are in receipt of Income Support you are entitled to Cold Weather Payments when the average temperature for your area is recorded at 0 degrees Celsius or below over seven consecutive days.
On a general basis, you can contact your energy supplier for information on how to use energy more efficiently so that you can reduce your bills. They can also advise you about grants that you may be able to apply for to make your use of energy more efficient.
Not quite free but for the price of a local call you can find out if it is beneficial for you to change to a new energy supplier who can offer you a cheaper deal. Energywatch can give you advice about how to make comparisons between suppliers and finding the best deal for your needs. Telephone them on 0845 906 0708.
Answer : The Disability Equipment Register is a self support organisation which provides a service for disabled people and their families. It enables them to buy, sell or exchange specialist disability equipment on a direct one-to-one basis. They produce a monthly magazine/list in which you advertise your equipment/or look for a piece of equipment, and a potential buyer/seller contacts you direct.
The Register was established in 1991 and there is a subscription charge but then your advertising is free. Equipment on the Register currently includes bathroom equipment, furniture, hoists, stair lifts, wheelchairs, etc.
For further details you can telephone the Disability Equipment Register on 01454 318818.
Answer : The situation at the moment is that carers in care homes are required to be checked by The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) if they were already in post on 1st April 2002. These checks must be completed in 2004. All Care Home staff appointed on or since April 1st 2002 will also have to have CRB checks. Registered providers and Managers of Care Homes will also have to have a CRB check.
There have been major problems with the operation of the CRB and on 1st November 2002 it was announced that there has been a postponement in the requirement for some categories of care providers to check carers through the Bureau. This means, that temporarily Nursing Agencies and Domiciliary Care Agencies will not be required to carry out these checks.
However, where the requirement for checks under the Protection of Children Act are necessary, these will still be carried out. Similarly checks required by Childrens Home Regulations, Fostering Services, Adoption Agencies, etc.