Benefits advisers working at a Worcester hospice have raised more than £1.2 million for patients and their loved ones since 2009.
The milestone amount was reached by the two Welfare Benefits Advisers working as part of the Family Support Team at St Richard’s Hospice.
The advisers, Sue Sheppard and Kate Middleton, work across all clinical areas of the hospice to help patients and families secure crucial financial support.
The small team is supported by the Worcester Housing and Benefits Advice Centre (WHABAC) and Worcester Citizens Advice (CAB) to offer specialist advice and assistance in applying for benefits including Employment and Support Allowance and Carers Allowance
Sue Sheppard, Welfare Benefits Adviser, said: “To reach the overall million-pound mark is fantastic.
“It’s great that these two organisations have been able to support St Richard’s Hospice patients, their carers and families in receiving the benefits they are entitled to and provide additional support. This service has proved invaluable within the community.
“During what is an incredibly difficult period for the patient and their family, life can be moving at quite a pace with processing the information from diagnosis, on-going treatment and possible prognosis.
“Our role is to try and minimise the volume of information and keep it clear and concise, as the benefits system can be complex."
The advisers provide on-going support their clients throughout the process – from the initial referral, through to advice if a patient is concerned with the outcome of a benefit decision.
Feedback from patients includes: “…just someone to listen with you unloading your financial worries is a great help” and “I never felt that I was a nuisance with wanting help with explanations and paperwork – made a very stressful time easier for me and my family”.
Sarah Popplestone-Helm, Head of Family Support Services at St Richard’s, said: “I am so proud of the incredible service provided by the CAB staff, they are dedicated, professional and extremely skilled.
“My thanks go to them, but also to Geraint Thomas and the CAB organisation for the support that they provide to us as a hospice.”
The main benefits applied for at St Richard’s include: Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support, Carers Allowance, Bereavement Benefits and Pension Credit. However, the list of benefits and premiums/components is vast.
Depending on a patient’s circumstances, the potential increase in income can range from £22 per week to more than £300.
Geraint Thomas, Solicitor and Advice Services Manager at Worcester CAB and WHABAC, said: “Worcester CAB and WHABAC has been delighted to work in partnership with St Richard’s Hospice as part of its Family Support Team and to contribute to the excellent service this team provides to the community.”
St Richard’s Hospice provides free specialist palliative and end of life care for patients living with life-limiting illnesses and supports their loved ones. Each year the hospice team supports more than 3,300 patients, family members and bereaved people in Worcestershire.
The hospice strives to provide the best medical, practical, emotional and social support they can to help people live life to the fullest, as independently as they can, for as long as they can. They care for people with a range of illnesses including heart failure, Parkinson’s, and motor neurone disease as well as cancer.
St Richard’s is an independent charity and relies on donations for three quarters of its annual £8.8m income with the remainder from the NHS.
St Richard’s has launched the Build 2020 Appeal which aims to raise the final £1.4m needed to build a bigger hospice, enabling more patients and families to be cared for in Worcestershire. The total cost for expanding and redeveloping the existing building in Wildwood Drive, Worcester, is £5.3m.
For more information about St Richard’s Hospice visit www.strichards.org.uk