In Jerry’s words…
I live in Sussex and my parents were in Cornwall. The distance didn’t help at all – it was a six-hour journey. When they started struggling on their own I had to help them to manage their financial affairs, so first we organised a Lasting Power of Attorney, which was absolutely essential.
I made sure I understood what benefits they were and were not entitled to, mainly getting information from the internet. When people are being means tested, you’ve got to get all the paperwork together. But because of the distance, I couldn’t just pick it up.
Keep things simple
You feel like you’re prying, which of course you are, for the best possible reasons, but there were times when I felt really bad about it.
You feel like you’re prying, which of course you are, for the best possible reasons. But there were times when I felt really bad about it. Dad used to get very defensive about me going through his private papers. It’s already a stressful time and you’ve got to make things as simple as possible. For example, Mum had lots of different accounts and I consolidated them into one account. It was all much easier when I switched to internet banking.
When Mum died in August, the council immediately stopped funding Father because he now owned their bungalow, which we had to sell and go self-funded. I had a good relationship with the care home and I negotiated a lower rate. But we could also now go to the Department for Work and Pensions and claim the full Attendance Allowance.
Making it work
Dealing with the DWP was hard – very time consuming and bureaucratic. It’s all box-ticking, and if you haven’t put information in the right place it gets rejected. You’ve got to understand that. Emails were a complete waste of time – you had to make phone calls to an adviser, and some were much better than others.
Oh, and another thing: I was dealing with Swansea, Belfast and Glasgow because one lot deals with Pension Credit, another lot deals with Attendance Allowance and another with ordinary pensions. They’re on the same system, but they kept losing the proof of my Power of Attorney. Then one call-handler commented that he could see it on a separate screen and after that I used to say to them, ‘Just double check your other screen because it will be on there,’ and it was.
Understand the process
You’ve got to keep a clear head and just work your way through all the processes and procedures. It makes sense to simplify as much as possible – that way you’ve got less running around to do. That has become even more important now that both my parents have died and I’m dealing with probate.
I’m retired, so I guess I had a bit more time than some people. Actually, I quite enjoyed the challenge and it meant that I was able to do my best for my parents - I got a feeling of achievement from it.”
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