Ask us a question

21 Dec 2016

Jewish Care’s free confidential helpline provides advice and information about support on offer either from Jewish Care or other local service providers. These are some of the questions our trained staff have been dealing with recently.

My neighbour is in poor health and is housebound. He used to always go to shul and was involved with cultural and religious activities across the community. Not being able to get out and go to shul has left a huge void in his life. Is there anything you could suggest to connect him into this life again?

It’s sad to hear that your neighbour is no longer able to attend shul. I can appreciate how difficult it may be for him to feel disconnected to what has been such an important part of his life. I wonder if the shul has a welfare co-ordinator who could perhaps find someone to visit him. If he had been attending regularly, I’m guessing he may know others in the congregation who could perhaps call him or drop in to see him?

Another suggestion I could make is a technological one. The Jewish Care Interact website has online forums where you can chat to others in the Community. There is also a whole section on Jewish Life and Culture, everything from Jewish jokes to reminiscence. There’s also a weekly abridged audio version of the Jewish Chronicle and the Jewish News as well as a monthly audio magazine, Jewish Extra so if your neighbour cant get out to pick up the papers he can still stay informed. The website is www.jewishcareinteract.org. If your
neighbour isn’t confident about using a computer, laptop or tablet, is this something you could show him? If not, it may be possible for Jewish Care to see if we can match him up with someone. Please call the Jewish Care Direct helpline and we’ll see if we can help.

I have recently become a welfare officer in my shul. It is a new role. Is there any support Jewish Care can offer me in this role?

Yes! Most shuls should have a link worker at Jewish Care, who will be a member of our Community Support & Social Work team. If you’re not sure whether or not your shul does, or don’t know how to get in touch with them, please call the Jewish Care Direct helpline and we can direct you from there. The link worker can keep you up to date with training opportunities at Jewish Care or in the wider Community. Our aim is to work in partnership with local shuls, not just to support individuals but the Community as a whole. This could be helping you to set up a training session or a support group, for example. So please do get in touch with us.

I am in my late 60s and recently widowed. I feel totally isolated and lonely. All of my friends are trying to be supportive but none are in the same situation as me. Is there anywhere I can go to talk to people who will understand what I am going through?

I’m so sorry to hear that your wife has recently died. I wish you a long life. It can be very isolating to feel that no-one really understands what you’re going through.

Jewish Care runs a number of support groups in partnership with the Jewish Bereavement Counselling Service where you can get together with others in the same situation as yourself.

To find out more about these groups or if you just need to talk to someone call us at Jewish Care Direct Helpline or contact Jewish Bereavement Counselling Service on 020 8951 3881 or email enquiries@jbcs.org.uk. I wish you well for the future and hope you will find the support you are looking for.

My husband has dementia and I am struggling to look after him at home. I know he needs to move into a care home but I feel so guilty about not being able to care for him. We always promised each other we would be together in our later years and I feel I am letting him down by moving him.

I can appreciate what a difficult and distressing situation this must be for you. But please know that you really have no reason to feel guilty. Many people in your situation feel the same but it is precisely because you are such a caring and loving person that you feel the way you do.

Caring for someone with dementia isn’t easy, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that. Unfortunately, as dementia is a progressive condition it will get even harder as time goes on. For many people, there will come a point when caring for someone at home is just not possible. I don’t doubt that you have done the very best you can to look after your husband but you need to look after yourself as well; your needs are no less important than your husband’s. By allowing professional carers to take over you are not letting him down, quite the opposite. It isn’t about ‘putting him in a home’, it’s about ensuring your husband has the care he needs to live as well as he can and surely that is an act of kindness and compassion.

There are many difficult and complex feelings at work in situations such as this but you are not alone. Jewish Care has a Family Carers Team who can provide on-going support and guidance to those who are looking out for or looking after someone. Please call us on the helpline if you would like to access this free service. You may also find there is a local carers organisation in your area and I would encourage you to get in touch with them if you can. You will almost certainly find others who are going through or who have been through something similar to yourself.

A friend of mine told me that her mother gets some kind of benefit because she needs help with things like washing and dressing. My father has carers coming in to help with that kind of thing too. He has already been told by social services that he doesn’t qualify for help from them because he has too much money. Would he be entitled to anything else?

The social services uses the figure of £23,000 which qualifies you for help
with care. You can apply for Pension Credit if your father and mother’s joint income is below £265 and savings below about £40,000. Help is also available if joint income is around £265 and they have service charges in a flat or a mortgage. For single people lower figures apply. If you call 0800 991 234 they will do a rough check.

There is also a benefit called Attendance Allowance which is paid to people over the age of 65 to help with the extra cost involved in living with a disability or long-term health condition. It is not means tested; qualifying for it depends on the care you need (although you don’t have to spend it on care), regardless of your income or savings.

There are two rates of Attendance Allowance, the lower and higher rate. The lower rate is currently £55.10 per week and is paid if you meet the criteria for either the day or night time tests. The higher rate is paid at £82.30 per week to those who meet the criteria for both the day and the night time tests. For further information on Attendance Allowance, you may wish to visit the government website: www.gov.uk/attendance-allowance or call the Attendance Allowance helpline on 0345 605 6055.

Please be aware that there are proposals to change the way Attendance Allowance is administered. The government is looking to transfer the budget and responsibility for it to local councils and there has been some concern about what this might mean in practice, with some organisations fearing it might lead to a ‘postcode lottery’. So if you think your father may qualify for this benefit, you may wish to begin the process of claiming sooner rather than later.

Jewish Care Direct helpline is open from Monday to Thursday, 8.30am-5.30pm and Friday 8.30am-2pm (5pm in summer). You can call Jewish Care’s Helpline on 020 8922 2222, visit www.jewishcare.org or email helpline@jcare.org