As a support worker I am shocked at the number of people who come to the Centre after years of caring for a relative or friend, to find that they are not claiming their full benefit entitlements and have struggled for years on very low incomes.
Due to new Social Security Legislation on 'backdating' coming into force from this June, claims from that time will only be allowed one month's backdating. Carers' Centres can provide advice and help with filling in the claims forms or may even be able to advocate on your behalf for reviews or appeals with the Benefits Agency.
All Princess Royal Trust Carers' Centres have information systems and leaflets on every aspect of Carers' needs and services, available to them locally as well as information for the cared for person. Many centres have links with local support groups and voluntary agencies such as Crossroads and Voluntary Sitters, who can provide short term respite care.
Anyone who has experience of caring for somebody over a period of time, may suffer from problems such as fatigue or stress on top of the other demands both personal or financial. Staff and volunteers at Carers' Centres are there to help and support Carers and provide a listening ear. They can help to arrange respite care or refer you to Social Services to carry out a Community Care Assessment and a separate Carers' Assessment, to determine what responsibilities they may have to provide statutory services such as home care or Meals on Wheels. The later Carers' Assessment has only been available since the Carers' (Recognition) Act 1995, which means that Carers' needs are taken separately from those of the cared for person. Many Carers want to continue caring for their partner, friend or relative, but find it almost impossible without proper support. The practical and emotional support provided through the Carers' Centres can make it easier to cope.
Some centres offer counselling, aromatherapy, reflexology, coffee mornings, social activities and craft classes. At the centre where I work there is no charge for these services, just a donation if you wish.
If you are caring for someone, just pick up the 'phone and contact the Princess Royal Trust for Carers on 0171-480-7788. They will advise you of your nearest Carers' Centre.
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