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P92 Isabel hospice benefits advisor partnership
  1. Lesley Ford and
  2. Helen Dodd
  1. Isabel Hospice, Welwyn Garden City, UK

Abstract

Is a bel Be nefits Advisor and East Herts Citizens Advice Ser vice Partnership and supported by the Big Lottery Fund.

The partnership between the Isabel Hospice and East Herts Citizens Advice Service (EHCAS) was formed in 2010 to enhance the services for patients assessed as requiring support for financial, legal matters, employment, utilities, debt, housing, immigration and nationality, taxation and discrimination as well as relationship advice to ensure that the most up to date information is made available.

Evidence has shown that people living with life limiting illness such as cancer do not receive benefits and other forms of support for which they are eligible. The complexities of the welfare system can seem overwhelming at a time when they are struggling to come to terms with their situation. Isabel Hospice is the service provider for Specialist Palliative Care in Eastern Hertfordshire that has a population of around 358, 000.

From October 2010 to June 2012 the Isabel Hospice Clinical Nurse Specialists provided benefits assistance to more than 1,700 clients. The Benefits Advisor was then able to offer more specialist advice to 400 clients.

It is imperative that the Benefits Advisor role is kept fully up to date with welfare reform and able to ensure that the Clinical Nurse Specialists are kept updated with changes.

It is estimated that the annual amount awarded to those under the care of Isabel Hospice as a result of the Partnership was in excess of £368,000. The top five benefits in which assistance has been given were for Disability Living Allowance, Carers Allowance, Bereavement Support and funeral payments, council tax benefit and employment allowance.

The Partnership has enabled the East Herts Citizens Advice Service to reach clients that it would not have been able to before. At such a stressful time it can be difficult to fit in a further appointment or even travel to the EHCAS - working collaboratively has enabled more patients and carers to receive the appropriate services to enhance the challenges faced when living with Life Limiting Illness either in the home, Day Services or our In- patient Unit.

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