Background The Wirral Hospice understands the need for expert benefits advice and guidance to assist and support patients and carers to maximise income and reduce hardship. We set up and audited a volunteer benefits advisor service at the hospice and its effectiveness over an 18-month period.
Aim The audit of a new temporary volunteers benefits advisor service (unpaid specialist advisor) via appointments with patients/carers and to assess benefit of specialist intervention.
Method Quantitative data collection. Via referrals, intervention and outcomes measures -Benefits correct, Benefits gain and Benefits overpayment, use of DS1500, and referral to third party agencies. The average number of referrals were 3–4 patients/carers PW during an 18 month period. Over 110+ patients took part.
The evidence showed that the service prompted a financial gain for many patients and carers, which was around 64%;
Financial gain is not the only measure in value – patients/carers found reassurance that their benefit was correct. It gave the opportunity for some families to discuss future financial position if a person dies;
The timely use of DS1500 was very important to avoid people missing out on their entitlement. 21% of patients were issued a DS1500 as they met criteria and were not receiving higher/enhanced rates of disability payment;
10% of patients/carer were referred on for complex issues requiring paid skilled benefit advisors.
Conclusion It was established that the benefit to patient/carers were considerable based on audit. The service needs to grow and move to a day time provision which would allow for the provision of benefits awareness sessions for staff and volunteers. We have agreed a four-hour weekly CAB provision at the hospice to start September 2019.
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