Sue: I hope the project results in care that meets older people’s needs and that they are happy with. The elderly deserve better; they have worked hard for the money that they are spending on care.
Sue is a qualified teacher, and earlier in her career she was an ICT technician and an engineer, so brings a wealth of research and analysis skills to the project. Sue is also a volunteer with Age UK Solihull and has witnessed self-care in the home, including people being confused about tasks to be carried out by the carer, or of being wary of complaining or even suggesting different ways of doing things because they don’t want to upset the carer or get them into trouble. Sue hopes the research will provide recommendations on how to present information to the elderly, to enable them to make their own decisions.
Shama: My voluntary work with Age UK suggests that the ‘just managing’ sector may juggle with hardship and go without social care. The reasons may be varied and worthy of exploration
Shama’s background is in social work education and training. She has written widely on anti-racist social work and presented papers highlighting how research sometimes benefits the researcher rather that the community, contributing to the development of user-led participatory roles in social policy. Shama is interested in the project for many reasons, including exploring why people may choose not to seek care, how information is provided and the effects of competition on the service provided. Shama is also looking forward to an opportunity to continue learning with a new group of people.
Trish: Arranging care is no easy task as the people involved often have to make decisions whilst emotionally and physically vulnerable. Many do not know what they are entitled to or that they can challenge decisions which have been made on their behalf without knowing there are other options.
Trish worked with older people for 10 years as an Information, Advice and Advocacy Officer with Age UK Solihull throughout Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council. This involved working alongside social workers, GPs, district nurses, Care Agencies and the Police, and gives Trish an insight into how systems work and where strengths and weaknesses lie. Trish believes that this project will make clear what older people want, and help decision makers on all levels see a positive way forward.
Judy: I feel self-funding is a very poorly understood and managed service
Judy has decades of experience working within social care services, including within Birmingham Social Services Home Care and with Age UK Solihull. This has included assisting people to continue living in their own homes, completing Attendance Allowance forms and assisting people in arranging to pay for services. This experience has given Judy very comprehensive knowledge of services, systems and how to access them. Nonetheless, Judy still feels that systems are complex and difficult to understand, presenting challenges rather than supporting people needing to make difficult decisions.
Jenny: I cared for my mother till she went into a home so have experienced some of the advantages and disadvantages of elderly care
Jenny works with Age UK Solihull on the Hub helpdesk. In this role, Jenny provides support and guidance to people of all ages and from all backgrounds, seeking help with a problem and often having no idea of how or where to find a solution. This experience, and the experience of caring for her mother, has led to Jenny wanting to be a co-researcher.
Ian: With our ageing population, I realise that social care and its funding are going to play increasingly important parts in all our lives. I believe that, as a nation, we need to concentrate our efforts on finding a way to deal with this problem and I feel a responsibility to make some contribution towards achieving this.
Ian has been a volunteer for the Age UK Solihull Befriending service for the past 6 years, supporting three men in their 80’s and consequently gaining greater insight into the lives and needs of older people. Ian’s previous career was in pensions, but he says he ‘learnt a lot’ about social care in the last months of his mother’s life. This reflects many people’s experience of having little or no prior knowledge before having to support a close relative at such a time.
Colin: I have acted as a carer for three family members. All have been dementia sufferers, which has led to the need to work through the sometimes labyrinthine procedures for establishing and operating appointments of both power of attorney and deputy through the Court of Protection.
Before retirement, Colin was an academic member of staff at the University of Birmingham, and as Emeritus Professor of Management Accounting, continues to have links with the University. He is a trustee of its pension fund and Chair of the pension Investment and Financing Sub-Committee. Colin’s background in finance and accounting and economics has fostered an interest in Government and Local Government policies in the broader areas of care of the elderly, notably its funding and in related taxation structures and incentives/disincentives. He has pursued this interest contacting his local MP. Colin is also a volunteer with Age UK Solihull.
Bob: I want to better understand self-funding issues in order to learn the pathway to care in later life
Bob has worked as a volunteer in the insurance section of Age UK for 10 years, arranging and discussing insurance products with clients on a face to face basis and over the telephone. Previously, Bob worked in personal banking, which involved daily customer liaison. His experience gives him a very broad understanding of the financial and emotional challenges which face people throughout their later years, and of the importance of making informed choices.
Alison has over 30 years’ experience as a Registered Nurse, including 15 years in palliative care. She has recently retired from Age UK Solihull, where she was employed as Assistant Coordinator for the Volunteer Befriending Service and latterly as a Care Navigator. Alison has considerable experience of visiting older people in their homes and assisting them to access health and social care services. She has worked throughout the borough of Solihull, both north and south, and has supported clients from all types of background, from the financially independent to those managing on benefits.
Sue W: Any research project that can further throw light on the challenges surrounding issues of self-funding and care, by listening to people directly involved, is invaluable
Sue has worked for Age UK Solihull for just over 8 years, recruiting and supporting volunteers. Previously, Sue held management roles, which required team working as well as good people and listening skills. For many years, Sue was the main carer for her mother, but her experience was that self-funding was a ‘minefield’, and that there needs to be more clarity of information available. Arranging care ‘required a vast amount of liaising with various agencies, and the challenges and frustrations I encountered has proven to me how distressed and helpless people can feel’. As a consequence of this experience, Sue believes that future practice has to improve.