By Debbie le Quesne

Our work empowers and really does make a difference

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Today, as I’m often inclined, I scanned online the social care section of the Guardian newspaper and was attracted to the headline ‘Our work makes the lives of older people better’.

I confess to rarely reading day-in-the-life-of features, but the heading alone had a resonance with the work of the West Midlands Care Association where I’m the CEO.

Sue Ash works for Age UK’s national advice line, a free, confidential service that supports older people as well as their families and friends. In her story, she simply outlines the contents of her day.

The type of calls she receives make interesting reading, though there’s nothing in them that surprises me.

I quote: “We speak to all sorts of people, from those who are struggling to receive practical support at home, to people who don’t know what funding is available to help them to pay for care. We specialise in advice regarding care rights and regulations, and are able to support people to get the services they need.

“We recently helped a man who needed to move into a care home and thought he needed to sell his property to pay for this. He was extremely worried, but we reassured him that this was not correct for his situation, providing him with advice on the best action to take. He told us he and his wife slept better that night than they had in weeks!

“We regularly deal with calls from older people who feel lonely and want someone to talk to. Age UK offers a number services that can benefit older people who feel they have no one to turn to; our local Age UK partners offer a range of hands-on services such as lunch clubs for older residents living nearby.”

Sue then adds “we are often able to help people claim pension credit or benefits they were unaware of and regularly hear how valuable this extra income has been.”

Care, rights, benefits, regulations, worries over fees, loneliness and social engagement. These are huge issues and just like Sue, WMCA encounters many of them on a daily basis.

It’s an agenda that should be up there with the NHS, taxes and national debt in the General Election political debates. Perhaps I’ve missed it all, but I doubt it. Potato too hot? Perhaps.

I applaud the work of Age UK in empowering our older people. Like Sue, who feels proud to be part of the work that helps so many, I too feel privileged to play my part. We’re in a business that can change the quality of life for the better, it’s about hope, it’s about winding up the clock of old age and keep going with as much quality of life as possible, it’s about high standards, innovation and securing the very best for society’s greatest treasure – our elderly.

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