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More help needed for older people with disabilities says study

1st July 2013

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

Recent research into the attendance allowance (AA) that is distributed weekly to around 1.5 million older people in the UK has suggested that more needs to be done to help older people who live at home and have a disability.

A report was recently published by the Strategic Society Centre and advice service Independent Age that highlights the problems faced by those receiving AA, giving some insight into the financial situation of some of the UK's most vulnerable people as well as recommendations for the future.

Most of the data used to make the report came from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, which is funded by the government to help them understand the psychological, health, social and economic issues that older people face. Updated every two years, the study has revealed a number of problems faced by those who live with a disability at home.

The data revealed that the majority of people who receive AA are female and over the age of 80. The difficulties that they tend to face on a daily basis include problems with dressing, shopping for groceries and showering, and many of these could be eased with such innovations as accessible showers and online shopping.

The Department of Work and Pensions gives weekly payments worth between £59 and £73 to each person claiming AA, amounting to around £5 billion being spent annually by the government. Although this financial aid from the government is fairly substantial, the data also revealed that a huge amount of the people receiving AA do not receive support from local authorities. Informal care from children and partners is fairly common, 36.1% and 29.8% respectively, but support from local councils is essential for both those caring and those being cared for, and around 1 million people are not receiving this help.

Mobility stairlifts and other essentials that allow those with disabilities to remain independent at home are not always cheap, and affording them has been identified as a problem for those who receive AA according to the report; the median private pension income is less than £25 per week for AA recipients, and 25% of them also receive means-tested pension credit.

The report suggests that more help from local authorities could help those living independently make their pensions and AA go further, and they recommend digitising and distributing the data gathered by the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing to local councils so that people can get the help that they deserve. They also suggest that AA claimants are "systematically offered information and advice" that will enable them to get the most from their limited budget, even if this is as simple as notifying them of the cheapest local taxi service available.

Image Credit: Images_of_Money (flickr.com)