Receiving specialist welfare benefit within Social Services: a qualitative interview study of older people and their carers
Wyatt, Katrina M.
Research Policy and Planning
Social Services Research Group (SSRG)
Benefits uptake in the older population is low compared to other age groups, and improving access to, and uptake of, welfare benefits advice is a key goal of UK health and social policies around active ageing. As there is little information on older people and/or their carers’ experiences of receiving specialist welfare benefits advice within social services, we undertook a qualitative interview study with service users and staff. Interviewees described difficult life circumstances around the time of referral. The complexities of accessing advice and of understanding the benefits system were recounted. Participants felt the advice was beneficial regardless of whether it resulted in additional income. The majority receiving additional benefits described a positive impact on life choices and control, quality of life, independence and health. Awareness of eligibility and availability of benefits and benefit advice remains low, and many older people and carers still feared the intrusion of benefit provision and advice. Whilst these findings confirm the valuable role of specialist benefits advice workers, more anticipatory rather than reactive approaches are needed to identify vulnerable adults who are not already known to the social care system.
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Vol. 26, pp. 33 - 43