Hospice benefits team help raise £1.2 million

2nd July 2018

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.”

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

During this challenging time, we are doing our utmost to continue caring for the patients and loved ones who need us most.

The way we work has been adapted, with many of our services delivered remotely – such as over the phone, or by video call. And we are working closely with other health care professionals in Worcestershire to share knowledge and expertise at this time.

Latest changes at St Richard’s Hospice

  • In-patient Unit: It is with great sadness that due to stringent infection control measures, we are required to restrict visiting and cannot offer the comprehensive level of service in the way we usually do. However, we will still do our utmost to make sure that each patient and loved one is given the compassion and dignity they deserve. To help families stay in touch we are encouraging virtual visiting using technology such as video calls and apps. This will be discussed and explained to patients and families on admission and we can help provide access to equipment in the hospice. In addition, the IPU nursing team will liaise with each patient and family to arrange short daily visits from the patient's closest loved one and compassionate visiting, as appropriate. Read the full details here.
  • Community Nursing: Community services continue to operate, with a mixture of hands-on care and remote support.
  • Living Well and Family Support Services: Switched to virtual model, with care given remotely over the phone or via video call.
  • Shops: All 19 of our shops and warehouse are temporarily closed. Please do not leave donations outside our shops, as we are unable to collect them at this time.
  • Fundraising: All hospice organised events until the end of August have been postponed. If you wish to support us, please donate to our Resilience Fund.

Please do not visit St Richard’s Hospice if you have a high temperature or new, continuous cough. If you have these symptoms, please stay at home and self-isolate for seven days. See NHS advice on coronavirus.

Thank you for your support and understanding at this difficult time.