Accessing and Navigating the System

Who Cares? event

Comments from Lisburn Discussion Event:

  • Suitable information about options should be available – it isn’t currently
  • Social workers should offer advice – there is a feeling at the minute that they ‘protect’ services by only advising you about services you are receiving or which you ask directly about. They should be able to make recommendations based on your own personal circumstances. This could be an issue for social work training and curriculum.
  • It is not just about the aim of social care, it also how to access that social care that is the issue. The paperwork surrounding services is horrendous and you need third parties to fill them in.
  • Currently the system is too complicated. Older people find it difficult to manage and hard to get through to the right person they need to speak to, especially when different departments don’t talk to each other.
  • Accessibility of services is key to have a functioning social care system. It will mean that people will fully engage with it and be able to understand it.
  • Services should be advertised and information about them should be proactively marketed. You can spend a lot of time and energy simply trying to access information under very trying circumstances.
  • Not everyone has the same amount of knowledge about the social care system and do not know what services are out there.
  • A booklet should be produced for the service user and their support system and their care worker to go through and discuss what the care worker can do and what the person needs and agree what they will do
  • Benefits are not given fairly eg. heating costs are still the same regardless of whether one person lives in the home or more.
  • Social care should include the provision of advice and making people aware of services that could help them – even something so simple as helping them to walk across roundabouts. This sort of thing is provided primarily by the community/voluntary sector but is extremely important and valuable.
  • Social care system is difficult to navigate, especially for older people. There should be a ‘hub’ where all services are coordinated – everything from housing adaptations to counselling and whatever comes in between. This would require all of a client’s records, medical and social, to be available electronically so there can be proper coordination of care. Every client should have one contact responsible for coordinating all their care and services and not have to ring dozens of people to get things accomplished. Better communication.
  • Form filling is a nightmare and too time consuming
  • Difficult to help people understand that information is key to getting help – people don’t always want to give out personal information – means government can know all about you
  • One idea: one-stop-shop in GP surgeries/health centres where people have access to information and advice on a range of areas, eg. benefits, social care, help filling in forms, could be staffed with volunteers from voluntary organisations – everyone goes to GP at some stage. Could be used to streamline requests for re-assessment/changes to care package
  • When home care is provided it is good, however it was agreed that it is hard to know what’s out there, who is entitled to what, how to get is
  • Assessment process should be made simpler – don’t want to have to constantly repeat same answers
  • There should be a clear management structure. Someone in your local area who is who is in charge of a number of social care workers in your area and you can so to them with any issues or concerns you have about the service or worker.
  • Be-friending schemes – more sign posting to good morning schemes. This can be built into assessment processes – its hard to find be-friending and good morning schemes – things that people do not know about
  • Social Care must be connected. All the various bits of care must be connected to one overall, centrally held and managed plan for each patient. There should be better mapping of all services available – including the smaller community/voluntary groups – so that the correct recommendations can be made for each individual with their input. Must also be connected to the health care sector and all the health information held for a patient. When services are coordinated and running together, there will always be a better result.
  • There needs to be better access to information about what the services are and how you can access them etc. The language needs to be simple and the process needs to be simpler.
  • A basic leaflet like TYC leaflet should be available that explains access and what’s available.
  • When we are well we should be making plans for our future.

Comments from the Omagh Discussion Event

  • You need adequate information on social care – the Government are responsible for this and yet there is no way to get the necessary information. Can they not do up a leaflet? How hard would that be?
  • Assessments are vital but perhaps for low level services they could make the assessments less cumbersome.
  • People in the statutory sector should be educated about what services are available in the community/ voluntary sector and vice versa.
  • Currently you have to be too proactive, too bullish to get the care and support you need. Many people do not have the knowledge of how to get this or the attitude required especially if they are suffering for underlying conditions eg: depression.
  • There should be a local or central directorate where you can lift a phone and get details of the services in your area whether they are statutory or Community/voluntary services. There should be pastoral care workers to possibly bring you to an event for the first time to boost confidence.
  • Automated telephony services are very frustrating – want to speak to people not machines.
  • Many people need help with applying for assistance.
  • Lack of ability of people to navigate the system and some need advice, support and assistance around this. It was also pointed out that social workers should be able to help with this and that signposting should also occur to other help such as CAB or community based projects.
  • Government literature needs to be in “plain English”; the Department’s publications about this consultation were cited as an example of not being presented in common talk
  • The people at the table would like a publication like Belfast Matters (a regularly updated printed book listing all older people’s services, both statutory and community, including contact details) rolled out across NI. This would go a long way to making sure people know what services are available and how to get them.
  • It was felt that forms for benefits were too complicated and a lot of them for example Boiler Replacement Scheme were only available electronically and not all older people have access to technology. The comment was also made you have to be on a benefit to get access to other benefits.
  • It was felt there should be a co-ordinated package of care with one point of contact where there was always someone there to take calls
  • You need to change how older people know or hear about what’s available and what they are entitled to. Too complicated.
  • It would be useful to have one point of contact. It is confusing choosing the right option on telephone calls
  • One assessment should be all that is needed instead of having different ones for GP’s, Social Services, hospitals etc asking the same questions. With computers in place, should be easy for all departments to share. They must be able to coordinate everyone’s records in one place.
  • When you are in hospital and want to leave you have a 30 page form to fill out – lots of questions to answer – some questions feel like trick questions and there may be 2 to 3 ways to answer these
  • There needs to be more information out there or available to the most vulnerable about the services that are out there. This includes the services in the community. When people are ill they lose the connection to their community. People will often need an introduction to these services in the community, a way in. People are frightened of going somewhere the first time.
  • Social workers should not necessarily take at face value what the clients say as some older people are very private and will hide situations out of pride. They should be able to spot what does the client “actually” need they also need to pay attention as to how they phrase questions to allow dignity and privacy they need to elaborate on what they are saying.
  • Needs to be more information on services available, e.g. person unaware that small local cancer charity offered transport to appointments – needs to be somewhere that this information is easily available. And need to recognise that not everyone is online;
Age NI Advice Line:
0808 808 7575

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