Staying safe and well at home

Age Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) are working in partnership to highlight the dangers householders face from fire, and to provide information on how these can be reduced. 


We hear from Deputy Chief Officer (DCO) David McGown, the SFRS’s Director of Prevention and Protection. “Fires within the home can develop quickly and they can be fatal while others can cause injury. They can also devastate homes and result in the loss of precious family items that can never be replaced.

SFRS routinely attend fires within the home and we see the consequences of such incidents. So, while we can fight fires we believe that prevention is key – and we will make every effort to stop them from happening in the first place.”

There are over 5000 accidental house fires in Scotland every year.  Cooking is the number one cause of these. If you’re distracted, or have left the cooking on to go and do something else, fire can spread very quickly. Very often it is when people are tired, under the influence of alcohol or on medication that a cooking fire results in someone being injured or killed.

Over the last five years three-quarters of preventable fire deaths in Scotland were people aged 50 years or over – and almost a third of people injured through fire were aged 60 or over.

DCO McGown continues “We are determined to drive down the number of house fires in Scotland.  Many house fires in Scotland could be prevented by taking a few simple steps.  Too often people are injured or killed by fire when, for example, working smoke alarms could have prevented a serious fire.  Our staff are working in the community every day providing advice and assistance as well as fighting fires.  By working in partnership we can make a difference. ”

SFRS offer a free Home Fire Safety Visit service.  The visits only take around 20 minutes and help householders spot possible fire hazards and make sure that their home is safer.  Firefighters also help residents plan what to do if fire does break out, provide essential information about smoke, heat and carbon monoxide alarms and identify any other agencies who could provide useful support.

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Home Fire Safety Visits are completely free and can cut the chances of a fire in the home.

You can cut out the chances of a fire happening in your home by booking a Home Fire Safety Visit, or if you know a person who could be at risk, then please tell them about our service or call us to see how we can help.

To request a free home fire safety visit for yourself, or someone you know, just call 0800 0731 999 or text ‘FIRE’ to 80800. You can also call the Age Scotland helpline who will link with the Fire Service to arrange the visit for you.

To find out more about keeping safe and well at home, please visit www.firescotland.gov.uk 

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The Veterans’ Guide to Later Life in Scotland – out now

As we near UK Armed Forces Day (30 June) Age Scotland has launched a free advice guide for older veterans.

The Veterans’ Guide to Later Life in Scotland offers veterans a route map to embracing opportunities and overcoming challenges that later life can bring.  It’s available to download, and postal copies can be requested from the Age Scotland Helpline 0800 12 44 222 or by emailing publications@agescotland.org.uk.  Here’s a flavour of what it offers older veterans, their families and professionals working with and for them.

Being treated fairly

Did you know that each council and health board in Scotland has signed a promise to every veteran?  Known as the Armed Forces Covenant this says you “should face no disadvantage compared to other citizens” and that “special consideration is appropriate in some cases, especially for those who have given most such as the injured and bereaved.”

Keeping well

Did you know that veterans are entitled to priority NHS treatment for health problems caused or made worse by military service? That means they should be seen more quickly than someone on the same waiting list who has the same level of clinical need.  There are NHS Veterans Champions you can speak to if you feel this hasn’t happened.

Care

When someone needs to move to a care home their social work department can carry out a financial assessment to see how much financial help they qualify for.  Did you know that if they are a veteran receiving War Pensions and Armed Forces Compensation Scheme payments, these payments won’t be counted as income in the financial assessment?  This means they may be eligible for more funding.

Housing

Did you know that specialist housing for veterans is provided by a number of charitable organisations in Scotland – from single rooms to adapted family homes?  The guide includes a list of providers you can apply for housing with.

Money matters

The guide introduces the main benefits relevant to older veterans.  Benefits rules are complex and the guide will not give you all the answers.  It will however help you to ask the right questions, which you can then put to the Age Scotland Helpline 0800 12 44 222.  In the first half of 2018, the helpline identified around £25,000 of unclaimed benefits for our veteran callers and their dependents.

Out and about

Did you know that veterans and their families can get discounts for many goods and services through the Defence Discount Service, the official MOD discount service for the UK’s armed forces and veterans?

Download the guide here or get a copy posted out for free by calling the Age Scotland Helpline 0800 12 44 222 or by emailing publications@agescotland.org.uk.

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Support for Scotland’s older veterans

Age Scotland is proud to be a partner in Poppy Scotland’s Unforgotten Forces portfolio. We will be working with partners including Action on Hearing Loss Scotland, Care and Repair Scotland, Citizens Advice Scotland, Defence Medical Welfare Service, Erskine, Fares4Free, Legion Scotland, Luminate, Music in Hospitals Scotland, Poppy Scotland, Scottish Older People’s Assembly, Scottish War Blinded and the University of West of Scotland.

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The portfolio is funded by the HM Treasury grant-giving body funded from Libor banking fines. The fund’s aim is to promote health and wellbeing for veterans aged over 65 and their dependants.

Around 1 in 10 people aged 65 or over in Scotland are veterans or veterans’ dependants; this includes a large cohort of older people who were required to do national service who do not necessarily view themselves as veterans. Age Scotland already works with many veterans, through our helpline, Men’s Sheds, walking football and our member groups. This project funding will enable us to identify and better meet their needs.

Most project staff will be based in our Edinburgh office, but we also have a new Veterans community development post which will be based in the north of Scotland.

So what will the project involve?

  • We will be working with our member groups to increase awareness of older veterans’ rights and issues
  • Supporting veterans who may be isolated to access service, support and good company in Age Scotland member groups and promoting networking among member groups which involve veterans.
  • Increased support for veterans from the Age Scotland helpline and referrals to agencies which provide specialist services such as the Citizens Advice Scotland Armed services advice project
  • Developing new information resources about services for older veterans
  • Digital inclusion help for older veterans
  • Increasing awareness of the policy issues which impact on older veterans’ lives
  • Training for Age Scotland staff and volunteers

Desired outcomes for older veterans and their families

Through this project we hope to achieve:

  • Greater understanding of their rights, accessing financial and other support they are entitled to
  • More engagement in community activities that reduce isolation and support health and wellbeing
  • Services and organisations supporting older people will be better equiped to deal with specific needs of older veterans
  • Older veterans’ issues will be better represented in the media and with policy makers and service providers.

If you would like to find out more about the Veterans Project, please contact the Age Scotland switchboard on 0333 32 32 400 or email veteransproject@agescotland.org.uk

Money Matters: a new Age Scotland project

Age Scotland has received funding from the Money Advice Service for a new project: until February 2018 we are offering older peoples’ groups a choice of Money Matters roadshows.

We have four new people in the team: Jessica Shields our Evaluation officer, Fiona Scott our Project assistant, Cheryl Fowler who will be delivering most of our roadshows and Sam Longden who will support helpline advisers and improve our information about money matters.

We can deliver roadshows on a choice of subjects:

Benefit entitlements – did you know that 1/3 of people who are entitled don’t claim Pension Credit? Could you be missing out? Do you know how many ways there are to get help with your council tax bill? Might you be entitled to Attendance Allowance?

Care costs and funding – what does care cost? If you qualify for free personal and nursing care what is actually free? Is it true that most people have to sell their house?

Power of Attorney – what types are there? How do you choose your attorney? What are your responsibilities if you are an attorney and where can you get advice?

Wills and funeral costs – why should you write a will? Do you know what a funeral costs? How much help is available from the government? How can you save money on costs?

Planning for and managing financial changes – does your group support people who face particular challenges with money because of caring responsibilities, health issues or bereavement? We can look at how best you can manage financial issues which affect you, and learn from you too.

After the roadshows, people can call the Age Scotland helpline, 0800 12 44 222 for a confidential conversation with an adviser.

The aim of the project is to find out “what works”. So we will be working with you to find out what you know before and after roadshows, seeing how many people make follow-up calls to our helpline and, if you agree, contacting you afterwards to find out if you did take steps to claim a benefit, take out a Power of Attorney or plan for funeral costs. We really need the feedback about what worked and what didn’t work, and we will adapt our roadshows and information in response to what we learn from you.

We are looking for some groups to help us to develop our training and information, and we will also be asking professionals who work with older people what money issues they are raising, what they know about money concerns for older people and what would support them to guide older people to find advice and help.

For more information or to book a roadshow call the Age Scotland switchboard on 0333 323 2400 or email the team

Carers Trust Scotland – Emergency & Future Planning for Older Carers– June’s Hot Tips

Our free calendar “Hot Tips” aims to ensure everyone in Scotland knows about the organisations and services available to them, and provides information on how to make the most of later life.

The month of June saw us partner with Carers Trust Scotland – the largest provider of comprehensive carers support services in Scotland. Heather Noller, Policy & Parliamentary Officer tells us about emergency planning and future planning for older carers in her guest blog.


In March this year, the Scottish Government introduced the Carers (Scotland) Bill. It’s been a long time coming – first announced in Autumn 2013, an extensive public consultation took place to look at what was required from a Bill for carers and how it would interact with other pieces of Scottish legislation. The Bill is a further chance to highlight carers’ needs and experiences to policy makers, showing them where the gaps are in support and services and improving the carer identification and assessment process. However, there are a few areas where changes need to be made to ensure the new legislation delivers new rights and real change for carers, and one of the key amendments we’re seeking is a commitment to emergency planning and future planning for carers.

Emergency and future planning can be particularly important for older carers, who can be concerned about what will happen to the person they look after if they are unable to continue caring for any reason; a lack of planning (or lack of support to make a plan) often causes unnecessary complications and concerns for them and the person they care for. Nobody likes to think about something bad happening, but for many carers, the details of their caring role and their loved ones’ needs live in their heads rather than being written in a plan, and the need for a plan only becomes clear when an emergency occurs. Early planning and the availability of high quality emergency care and support can help to relieve concern in cases like planned hospital admission for the carer, and in emergency situations, when things can happen at very short notice, the plan is clear and accessible to everyone involved in caring for the carer and the person they look after.

Often the key thing is to provide continuity and security for the cared for person, especially if it’s important for care and support to be delivered by people they know. It might not be easy to think about what might happen if caring is no longer possible, but in the long term it’s the best thing for carers and the people they look after to make sure that a difficult situation isn’t further compounded by not having a plan in place.

The Carers (Scotland) Bill is a great opportunity to improve outcomes for all carers in Scotland and to highlight in legislation the importance of carers having the opportunity to plan for emergencies and the future. It should be a fundamental part of an Adult Carer Support Plan and Young Carers Statement so that all carers get the opportunity to discuss their emergency and future planning needs. Enable Scotland and Carers Trust Scotland have worked together to lobby the Scottish Parliament to make changes to the Bill around emergency and future planning, and we’ll continue to discuss the issues with organisations that work with carers, like Age Scotland, to make sure that a wide range of views of represented.

Visit Carers Trust Scotland or call 0300 123 2008 for more information.


You can still download your 2015 Hot Tips Calendar here and get handy information and advice. Here’s what you’ve thought about Hot Tips so far:

  • “Brilliant information that I will pass onto family and friends”
  • “Thank you for the calendar – useful & attractive”
  • “Invaluable, great help – used daily, all year”

Download yours today!

What is the Help for Heating fund?

In their guest blog, RSABI tell us about the “Help for Heating Fund”, launched in December 2014, which aims to alleviate the effect of fuel poverty amongst people who have depended on land-based occupations.


 

It is widely recognised that rural fuel poverty is consistently higher than the national average with older people being particularly vulnerable. Energy efficiency improvements can help make homes more comfortably and affordably warm.  However, in many rural communities where properties are typically older, harder to treat or lie off the gas grid, they alone cannot lift people out of fuel poverty in the context of rising fuel prices and low fixed incomes. 

RSABI recognises that during the Winter months many households will be inadequately heated, with many people will be worrying about paying their energy bills.

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The Help for Heating Fund has been set up to help alleviate the effects of fuel hardship for those who have depended on the land but are now unable to work. The application is simple and the charity has made cash available specifically for this fund, with help coming in the form of a fixed grant of £300 for successful applicants.

A few points to note – the Help for Heating Fund application criteria are simple: applicant households must fall within the Scottish Government’s definition of fuel poverty – over 10% of total income (which includes all benefits, disability or otherwise, and housing benefit, if received) spent on energy bills (or this would be the case if their home was heated to generally acceptable adequate levels). Applicants must meet RSABI occupational criteria – having worked full-time on the land in Scotland for at least 10 years and being no longer able to work owing to age, illness and/or disability.

Those in need of help, or others who may know someone who is sitting at home in the cold, are being encouraged to contact RSABI. Please call the RSABI office in confidence for more information (0131 472 4166), or visit the website www.rsabi.org.uk


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What becomes of the carer?

As a carer, losing the one you are supporting can be a double pain of bereavement and redundancy. Here, guest blogger Christine Rae opens up about her experiences.

Why am I writing this piece about caring?   The reason is simple – because when I became an accidental carer for my Mum I couldn’t find the information I needed to do the task effectively. With hindsight I suspect it was available, but just not in one place, and the conversations I had with others in similar situations seemed to bear this out. This article illustrates my experience and it acknowledges my gratitude for all the help I got from those people who time and again rescued me from the mire.

Christine Rae

Christine Rae

To me there are two types of carer, visible and invisible. The visible ones are easily recognised, generally wear a uniform and have had some specific training to equip them for their caring role. Invisible carers on the other hand, have in most cases had no training at all, relying on a combination of love, basic instinct, resourcefulness and sheer good luck to enable them to look after their loved one, and are recognized only by their relationship to the person they care for.

I’d hear people saying things like, “Caring is a steep learning curve.”  “It’s a strain sometimes, but what’s the alternative?” “A warped sense of humour helps!” “One day I’ll remember all the laughter we shared, then I’ll feel sad and guilty.” “Mustn’t complain.”   “I love him but I get so tired.” “Where’s the five minutes I promised myself?” “It’s very isolating.”

And what becomes of the carer after their loved one dies? There is the immediate pain and grief, the keeping up appearances in public, the eventual rebuilding of some kind of lifestyle, and superficially at least, they look as if they are managing, coping, doing OK. It is the same problem again. They have loved and cared for their relative, in many cases for years, and have suddenly been deprived of that ability. They are suffering the double pain of bereavement and redundancy, and as a result of a loss of purpose and focus, need help and support to rebuild their sense of self-worth once more.

I found that the most important thing was admitting to myself that I was feeling vulnerable and letting other people help me. Don’t feel guilty about accepting it, they would not offer if they didn’t want to become part of your life. Let your guard down, open yourself up and let the world back in. It won’t flood in, it will only come in as quickly as you need it to, and one day the person doing the helping and supporting will be you, the no longer redundant carer.

 

This is a ‘Soapbox’ article from our Advantage Magazine (p25). Soapbox columns do not necessarily reflect Age Scotland’s views or policies. To submit an article call Advantage on 0845 833 0200 or email advantage@agescotland.org.uk

Raising awareness of elder abuse in BME communities

Age Scotland has supported the development of a new information pack designed to raise awareness about elder abuse within Black & Ethnic Minority Ethnic (BME) communities.

The pack, launched this week by the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Kenny MacAskill, has been published by the Older People Services Development Project following a consultation on what has been a hidden and unspoken issue.

The Lottery-funded Project – jointly run by the Trust Housing Association, Hanover (Scotland) Housing Association and Bield Housing and Care – has developed this information in partnership with Age Scotland to generate wider awareness of these issues, and to help identify signs of elder abuse or neglect within BME communities.

Speaking at the Elder Abuse Information Seminar in Glasgow, the Justice Secretary said: “It is profoundly chilling to think of older people in our society facing neglect and abuse.

“The information pack being launched today is a vital part of the strong, positive, message we need to get out to all victims of abuse in Scotland – you are not alone.

“The challenges identified and addressed by this information pack will play a vital role in assisting the elderly, in helping them plan for the future and feed in to our shared goal of building stronger and more resilient communities.”

The consultation revealed that, contrary to the perception BME communities ‘always look after their own’, this group of older people can face a range of difficulties. Indeed, it is sometimes the traditional reliance on family that can leave some older BME people vulnerable to financial, mental or emotional abuse.

Rohini Sharma Joshi, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion/ Manager of Trust Housing Association, said: “In BME communities, older people may already experience isolation and confusion through language and cultural barriers, and can also be denied financial independence and the means to access support or social services.

“Afraid to speak out for fear of abandonment, some of these older BME people are even unaware the problems they experience are actually termed as abuse.

Age Scotland Chief Executive Brian Sloan said:  “It is vital that we encourage those experiencing elder abuse to seek help, however, many people may not know where to turn to, especially if the person responsible is a relative or carer.

“That’s why Age Scotland was keen to ensure our Fact Sheet on Elder Abuse reached the widest possible audience.  This partnership ensures older people from across Scotland’s BME communities can access the same resources irrespective of language or access barriers.”

Superintendent Gavin Philip from Police Scotland, said “Police Scotland is committed to working with all communities to help understand the impact of elder abuse issues or concerns this problem raises.

“This seminar was an excellent opportunity to reiterate our commitment to tacking those issues and to listen to people’s concerns, with the focus being on the particular aspects surrounding elder abuse within BME communities.”

Opening the door on inspections

Guest blogger Annette Bruton, Chief Executive of the Care Inspectorate, explains how the organisation is developing its approach.

Annette Bruton

Annette Bruton

Almost everyone in Scotland will use a care service at some point in their lives.  That simple fact means everyone in the country has an interest in the quality of services provided across the Scotland right now, from nurseries to care homes, and it means the question of what standards we expect will become an ever more important one in the future.

As Scotland’s regulator for care services we have a duty to ensure everyone receives the best possible care; which means care that is safe, compassionate, meet people’s needs and respects their rights.  But there’s more to our role than that, because not only do we have a duty to inspect and regulate, we also have a duty to inform people about the work we do.

Fundamental to the principle of respecting a person’s rights is respecting their right to choose. And people can only make informed decisions if they have all the information they need.  That’s why we have now embarked on a new way of highlighting some of the things we find out through our rigorous inspections.  For example, we now highlight poorly performing services on our website and to the media, as well as doing the same for services which genuinely excel.  We believe this will have the double benefit of helping everyone understand what good and bad care looks like; and that in turn, it will drive standards up across the board.

On top of that we have just launched an innovative new way to communicate some of the other information we gather.  The Hub is our new online resource aimed at Scotland’s 200,000 care workers. It’s a way for us to highlight good practice, current policy, and to tell the world about some of the innovative care which is being provided in Scotland. I urge you to give it a look at www.hub.careinspectorate.com.

Telling people about what we do and the information we gather is crucial, but that’s only useful if the work we carry out ‘in the field’ is robust, transparent and trusted.  That’s why we have changed the way we carry out inspections and now have dedicated inspection teams for the different types of services we inspect.  Put simply our inspectors who are experts in early years provision inspect nurseries, and those with corresponding experience of care services for the elderly inspect care homes for the elderly.

If that seems simple, it’s because it is.  But we want to go further, to ensure our inspection activity is as robust as possible. And that’s why we recently launched a bid to recruit more inspection volunteers.  Volunteers are members of the public with a genuine experience of care, whether that’s from using a service themselves, or because their loved ones have accessed care. We believe that having people with a personal experience of care working alongside our expert inspectors during an inspection means we get an even more accurate picture of any given service.

To find out more about the work we do, and to get involved as a volunteer inspector, log on to our website www.careinspectorate.com or get involved or by calling 0845 6009527.

Patient Opinion working with Age Scotland

We are pleased to welcome guest blogger, Natalie Deacon from Patient Opinion to our blog to talk about how Age Scotland and Patient Opinion are working together to help improve health services in Scotland.

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We are delighted to announce today that Age Scotland are our newest charity to use the Patient Opinion widget on their website!

Age Scotland and Patient Opinion believe your stories can really make a difference to our health services. We are excited about our collaboration and look forward together, to help get your stories heard by the right people.

Who are Patient Opinion?
Patient Opinion is an independent website about your experiences of UK health services, good or bad. We pass your stories to the right people to make a difference.We are a not for profit social enterprise and we believe that the stories of patients and carers can help improve health services across the UK.

We use the power of the web to carry the voices of patients and carers into the heart of health services. You can share your experiences of healthcare anonymously, we never disclose any information about the person who is telling the story.  All stories are published on the Patient Opinion website for everyone to read and the NHS can then respond to your comments to tell you how they are using your experiences to make services better for everyone.

We currently work with Diabetes UK, Hepatitis Scotland, Angus Long Term conditions, Chest, Heart and Stroke, Stroke Association, Fife Young Carers and many other national charity organisations.

Over74,000 stories have already been told on Patient Opinion with lots about Scotland and lots about older people.

What is the widget? If you have recently used the NHS you can use the Patient Opinion widget to share your experiences and we can pass on your thanks or concerns to the relevant health board. Patient Opinion asks the health service to respond to the feedback you share, but does not reveal your identity. The widget means it is easy and convenient to share your story with Patient Opinion though Age Scotland’s website.

See Patient Opinion in action:  We recently had a story from a patient who was having problems with the  ENT appointment booking system at Raigmore hospital. Their concerns were taken seriously and a positive change was made because of the comments they shared on the Patient Opinion website.

Tell your story today!