Shears - Home Support & Relocation

Shears' News: 2013

The importance of older people keeping warm [18th December 2013]

According to Age UK, an estimated 24,000 older people could die needlessly this winter due to illnesses brought on by the cold. As a result they have produced a useful booklet – ‘Winter wrapped up - A guide to keeping well and staying warm in winter’- which highlights the issues and provides some simple steps older people and their families can take to minimise the risk. Local Authorities too are reinforcing the importance of this area, with for example Hertfordshire’s ‘Keep Warm Stay Well’ scheme providing a range of free support and advice, details of which are available via HertsHelp on 0300 123 4044. So if you have loved ones, friends or neighbours who might benefit from some form of support, we would encourage you to seek advice and act now - before the really cold weather sets in. For Age UK’s guide:
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The importance of financial and legal planning for loved ones: [4th November 2013]

Research shows that while people visit their financial adviser once a year (for the annual review), they apparently only return to a solicitor once every 7 years. While solicitors are often perceived as the people to go to when there is a tangible issue to address, (a will, divorce, new house etc.), proactive conversations at key times in a person’s life should also be considered, to avoid problems further down the line. Moving into Mum’s home for example to provide her with care and support in her later years, or having her move in with you and retaining the benefits of her house sale as payment, can have a huge financial impact in the future - particularly if she ever had to go into care and need Local Authority funding. Taking legal advice, in conjunction with financial advice at any such stage is crucial and may avoid families being liable for potentially huge financial costs. If you do not have a solicitor or a financial adviser, either seek recommendations or do a local search via Solicitors for the Elderly (http://www.solicitorsfortheelderly.com) and the Society of Later Life Advisers (http://societyoflaterlifeadvisers.co.uk). Both sites give a list of qualified and accredited professionals, who specialise in the affairs of older people.

Looking after elderly parents when you live overseas: tips for expats [1st November 2013]

Navigating the care system in the UK is hard enough, but for expatriates living many miles away, and possibly in a different time zone, the situation can be a nightmare.When the health of a parent or loved one deteriorates, there is the additional nagging sense of guilt around the “do I stay” or “do I go” question, to contend with. And asking someone to step in to help is often seen as ‘passing the buck’ or a shirking of one’s responsibilities. So what can be done? Thankfully there are a number of things that expats can do – but for which plenty of time has to be allowed – and the sooner you start planning, the better. To read my top tips for expats:
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Getting the NHS to pay for Care – in any location [10th October 2013]

The press have long covered the subject of high costs of care, particularly for those who enter a care home. But paying care fees can also be a big issue for those in their own home. Sums can easily mount up to over £100k per year, particularly when 24-hour care is needed. However if you need full time care and your needs are primarily health ones, 100% of care fees (including for any element of ‘social care’) should be paid for by the NHS. But the NHS are unlikely to come forward to tell you this – particularly if you are self-funding and paying out of your own pocket. In such cases, it is well worth tooling yourself with all the information you can find, and also asking your local GP and social worker for an initial NHS Continuing Healthcare funding assessment. You can also ask the local NHS Continuing Healthcare Dept. directly. However, this process can be a minefield to navigate and you may need to challenge what you’re told. But thankfully Angela Sherman, Director of Care to be Different, who specialises in this area, has produced a comprehensive 162-page guide on ‘How To Get The NHS To Pay For Care.’ Shears highly recommends this, and the testimonials on the website speak for themselves. To find out more...
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Many older people would downsize if they could  [30th September 2013]

Time and time again, I come across older people struggling to stay independent in their own homes - many of which turn out to be too big, too cold, too expensive or too onerous to maintain. In such cases, it is too late to downsize, given the effort required, the options available and the care needed. Interesting then that this month’s report by Claudia Wood at Demos (http://www.demos.co.uk), a leading cross-party think tank, identified that their figures showed “33 per cent of over 60s want to downsize, which equates to 4.6 million over 60s nationally”. While this has huge implications for housing policy etc., it also suggests that by looking and planning ahead, families can help their loved ones be in a better position to remain independent for longer. While downsizing clearly involves considerable emotional, practical and financial effort - it can also bring huge benefits too and is therefore worth broaching with loved ones before it is too late. To download the Demos report...
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Beware of Care Home ‘Third Party Top-Up Fees' [24th July 2013]

With the whole debate around the cost of care homes, coupled with the increasing yet conflicting pressure on Local Authority budgets, a report produced this month by the charity Independent Age on the prevalence and misuse of ‘third party top-up fees’, is concerning. In the report they highlight that too often families are being asked to pay top-up fees without being given the right information. Local Authorities have a legal obligation to ensure that families are both ‘able and willing’ to pay the fees, but if the fees are arranged direct with the care home, this obligation is sometimes not being met. Instead such payments are being positioned as simply the cost of providing the care. We therefore urge families who are being asked to pay such fees to seek independent advice – or to read Independent Age’s full report, which you can find here...
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National Dementia Week: New Perspectives for Carers [31st May 2013]

For people caring for loved ones with dementia, times can be difficult and support is too often lacking. So anything that raises awareness of the Number 1 health challenge of our time should be encouraged. As part of National Dementia Week this month, Shears was delighted to be asked to contribute to an on-line telesummit, ‘New Perspectives on Dementia’, hosted by The International Association for Health and Learning. Recordings were made of 8 hour long sessions, details of which are available here, along with the chance to purchase a CD of the sessions...
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Changes to the benefits system – are you affected? [9th April 2013]

Following the Welfare Reform Act 2012 much has already been written about the introduction of Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payments, which are being phased in as part of sweeping changes to the benefits system, from this week. Although the changes are mainly aimed at people of working age (i.e. below 65... though this is changing in line with rises in the State Pension age), some older people will be affected...mainly by changes to Pension Credit. If you are worried about if and how the changes might affect you, Turn2Us, the benefits specialists are running a third annual Benefits Awareness Month campaign as well as their online Benefits Calculator, to help people identify their eligibility. They also offer a free and confidential helpline from 8am-8pm Monday to Friday on T:0808 802 2000. For those who are on-line, Age UK have summarised the changes, which you can read here....
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Worried about ageing parents but don't know where to start?  [28th February 2013]

Trying to find care and support for a loved one can be a bewildering experience. In my article for 'Care to be Different', I highlight why the system is so difficult for families to navigate in this country, some key areas to be aware of and some tips to avoid the pitfalls. If you're faced with ageing parents and wondering what you can do to help them now or to plan ahead for the future, click here for the full article ...
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New Year but same Old Challenge:  [3rd January 2013]

Despite lots of profile and platitudes, it is now nearly 18 months since the eagerly anticipated Dilnot Commission published its findings into social care funding. Everyone agrees the system is broken and unfair yet little progress has yet been made towards reaching a solution. With a new year, let’s hope there will be a new beginning - and a consensus that the funding of care for older people is not a party-political issue, but a national disgrace. Care, like health touches a huge and growing proportion of the population and those in power must work together to address it, once and for all. Everyone agrees it is not going to be easy - but if the communication is right, it should not be seen as a guaranteed vote-loser – quite the contrary. So in 2013 we urge ministers to stand up for what they know is right, make the tough decisions and finally relieve older people and their families of the worry of funding care and support in their old age.

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