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The range of services delivered by local Age UKs in the North East are vast and the following case studies are just a small number of examples of how older people are engaging with our services.

Case Study 1: Information and Advice

Mrs. A was referred to Age UK North Tyneside through her social worker in order to review circumstances particularly around income maximisation.  Mrs. A has been a fiercely independent woman all of her life holding down two and sometimes three jobs during her working career.  She continued to work past retirement age as she enjoyed keeping busy and feeling needed. 

Mrs. A suffered a heart attack approximately 24 months ago and was forced to give up work as a result of reduced mobility and has found since she left the work place that her health has deteriorated quite rapidly and she has been finding it increasingly frustrating and difficult to remain independent.  Mrs. A informed us that she suffered from various health conditions including, Aortic Stenosis, Ischemic Heart Disease COPD, Sleep Apnea and Diabetes, and has been experiencing issues with daily living tasks like getting into and out of a chair, dressing, bathing, getting into and out of bed and she was also finding that she needed more and more support from her husband.  As a result of mobility limitations, Mrs. A was no longer able to step onto a bus and is having to rely on taxis to carry out important tasks like shopping and attending doctor’s appointments.  As a result, Mrs. A felt socially isolated and was finding it difficult to afford to visit her sick 93 year old mother. 

Age UK North Tyneside visited Mrs. A in her home to identify and work through the options that are available to support her with her situation.  We identified possible entitlement to Attendance Allowance and supported Mrs. A to complete her application.  We completed a benefits check with Mrs. A to ensure that income is maximised in order to support her with the rise in daily living costs and enable her to socialise and visit her family and also highlighted her local Taxi Link service.  We worked with Mrs. A to understand care/carers and needs assessment available via the Local Authority and supported her to request a full assessment of needs with a view to identifying support available within the home. 

As a result we helped Mrs A to secure:

High rate Attendance Allowance: £4321.20

Housing Benefit: £3024.32

Council Tax Reduction: £797.68

Annual Benefits Gain: £8143.20

Mrs. A: “The help given has given peace of mind, taken the pressure off; the advice worker was friendly and excellent.”

 

Case Study 2: Health and Wellbeing

Mrs. S has been attending an Age UK Newcastle Lunch Club for the last 4 years; her family contacted us as she could no longer go out on her own following a hospital admission due to a fall. Mrs. S had lost all her confidence following her fall; she also has diabetes and has hearing problems. She had moved into a brand new extra care sheltered accommodation facility.

Our Activities Co-Ordinator was contacted by the Housing Scheme Manager for advice. Mrs. S was talking to some of the other residents about the exercise class she was doing at the lunch club and how it would be good if they could have something like that on a regular basis in the tenants’ lounge. The tenants already had popular social activities but wanted something more ‘physical’.

As a result of the discussion, Age UK Newcastle trialled six gentle exercise classes to see what the uptake would be. The pilot was successful and more were booked, we also booked Rookie Sports to attend four sessions and took with us some equipment including Indoor Curling, Boccia etc. These sessions were very popular and Housing Scheme Manager has booked regular sessions which will be funded by themselves.

Mrs. S. will tell you she now feels more involved, she helps to organise sessions, goes around reminding other tenants when they are on and encourages them to come along.  Mrs. S was adamant that physical activities would be delivered in her lounge and she now feels great!

Case Study 3: Advocacy

Advocacy

Mrs. A contacted the Information and Advice Line after she had recently been bereaved and she was anxious over her housing situation. The property she was living in was now unaffordable as previously her husband’s income had covered the rental liability. As he had passed away Mrs. A had found her finances in disarray and was very worried about getting into debt. Mrs. A was aware that she should be entitled to some of her husband’s pension but she did not know how to access this or how much she would receive and therefore felt she could not plan for her future.

 

She had no family or friends to go to for support and she was confused over what she could do. She contacted the Information and Advice Line for help as she wanted to know her rights in regards to rehousing and potentially the action her landlord could take if she could not afford the rent.

 

Our Advocate visited Mrs. A at home and listened to Mrs. A’s account of what had happened. We then researched and then discussed with Mrs. A the possible outcomes of getting into rent arrears and means of avoiding this. This led onto helping her apply for Discretionary Housing payments from the Local Authority, which has enabled her to pay her full rent and avoid rent arrears to date.

 

We also helped Mrs. A make phone calls to her husband’s pension provider to resolve the payments. The company would not release the ongoing payments without an overpayment (caused between the death and the notification to the company) being repaid. We negotiated a repayment of this with instruction from Mrs. A and agreed an interim payment to be released whilst the matter was resolved.

 

Mrs. A said that as a result of our support, her anxiety had reduced and she had started to sleep upstairs in her bed again, she had been sleeping in the armchair downstairs.

 

Cancer Advocacy

Mrs. B had previously used the Age UK Northumberland Advocacy Service and called one morning as she had an appointment for the results of a breast biopsy that afternoon. Mrs. B lived alone and had no family and planned to go alone to the appointment. We asked Mrs. B if she would like some support at the appointment and Mrs. B said that she would.

 

We accompanied Mrs. B to her oncology appointment, where she was diagnosed with breast cancer. At the consultation we provided emotional support and took notes. A couple of days later we visited Mrs. B and discussed the consultation offering her an opportunity to talk through how she felt and consider her options. The advocate on instruction wrote to the consultant with questions that Mrs. B had concerning treatment and also accompanied her to additional meetings to discuss her concerns.

 

Case Study 4: Bereavement Support

Mr. and Mrs. T had been married for 71 years, they had no children and had built a life together. Mrs. T said the only time they spent apart was whilst Mr. T was fighting in Europe and the happiest day of her life was when he came back home to her “sporting that silly lopsided grin he always had”. Like many older couples they were each other’s social and support network with Mr. T paying the bills and interacting with statutory services. Mr. T died in Mrs. T’s arms after she told him “I’m stronger than you think don’t cry, it’s your time, we will meet again in the next life”. This was a sudden shock for Mrs. T and she felt totally overwhelmed and lost without him.  Mrs. T felt her final words gave Mr. T permission to die and carried a feeling crushing guilt, resulting in her withdrawing from every aspect of support and society. In her own words she spent her days weeping looking at albums, purposely not eating and hoping to die if only to see Mr. T again.

Part of the work as a Support Volunteer is building the relationship with a client.  Initially we had to work very hard to ensure that Mary could trust and open up. This doesn’t happen from the outset and clients need to be able to feel that they can relate to you.  Mrs. T started to relax as sessions went on and we started to build a relationship where she could begin to open up.

Mary was able to talk about the loss of “her Mr. T” and how this had impacted on her. She shared how painful it was and how much she missed him.  She was able to get in touch with the shock and how it had affected her.  Mrs. T broke down and cried in a lot of the sessions and at other times he got very depressed stating her life went when Mr. T died.  Mrs. T was able to let go of a lot of bottled up emotions and to then share how she felt about living with just her memories and a sense of isolation.

Gradually during the support Mrs. T divulged her financial worries which organisationally we addressed via our Benefits Service. Mary now attends one of our Day Centres and receives a weekly visit from our Befriending Volunteer. Mrs. T still sleeps at night with a picture of Mr. T on the next pillow, and like any case study it is hard to explain the trauma Mary has and continues to go through.

In Mrs. T’s own words:

 “I have a reason to get up, I have new friends and I know my time is short and Jack will see me soon but he will be so proud of me. Importantly my last words to him were not a lie I am stronger than he thought”

Case Study 5: Befriending

Mr. W is 59 years old and lives alone in a flat in North Shields. A few years ago, he was in a life changing accident which affected his life completely. He was left partially brain damaged and lost sensitivity in both legs. This affected his confidence in a negative way especially his ability to go out independently.      

Mr. W started to be feel very isolated and lonely and there were often times when he would go for several days without any company at all as his son worked away.  Mr. W had no family apart from his son as his mother had passed away a few years back so this was a very upsetting time for him.

Age UK North Tyneside carried out a home visit and following a guided conversation suggested a befriender visit Mr. W on a weekly basis. After looking at Mr. W’s interests, Age UK NT matched him up with someone who had the same likes and interests.

Gerry the befriender met with Mr. W and they immediately hit it off as they both used to work in Germany and had both travelled extensively so had many interesting stories to exchange. Mr. W’s hobby was chess and he had an old chess board but hadn’t played in years due to having no one to play with.  He decided to teach Gerry how to play chess as a new hobby for him as he feels he is getting so much from Gerry visiting him once a week.

Mr. W now feels so much happier and he has something to look forward to each week. He quotes: “I can honestly class Gerry as a true friend and the best is yet to come.”