"Benefits help at Wells Road Centre, Nottingham"

About: Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

(as a volunteer/advocate),

Posted for Patient BB (not real initials) by the advocacy service in their words.

I have recently learnt that the hospital benefits officer is being made redundant. This fact has not been widely publicised to patients and I am concerned that there are no suitable alternative arrangements in place to replace this valuable support. I have along with other patients received excellent support from the benefits officer in sorting out my finances. Welfare benefits is a complex area especially in view of recent changes to the benefits system and I am concerned that patients in the Wells Road Centre will not have expert assistance. Whilst there may be alternatives available in the community patients here cannot make use of these facilities. Patients cannot access the Internet for this information. How will this important need be met when the benefits officer leaves?

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Response from Jane Danforth, Involvement Team , Involvement & Experience, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

picture of Jane Danforth

Dear BB1

I'm sorry to hear about the Welfare Rights officer post ending, I will need to contact the Wells Road Centre staff and talk to them about it but I will make sure that we answer all the questions you have asked and reply more fully to your posting soon.

Thank you for leaving your feedback

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Response from Yvonne Bird, Community Forensics OT, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

Thank you for raising this concern

The Trust Benefits Officer role has been a real support for patients throughout the Trust for many years. A review by Local Services in 2012 identified however, that the support offered by this post was also available from different sources, including through the Involvement Centre and the Recovery College based at Duncan Macmillan House. These services reflected what was available to people living independently in the community, and were widely accessible to those within in-patient settings. As a result these services have taken a lead in offering support across the city and county of Nottingham for individuals under the Trust’s care who apply for and receiving appropriate benefits.

Patients from the Wells Road Centre are able to easily access this service given their close proximity to the Recovery College, and as such the majority of our

in-patients will be able to gain support, advice and direction for a range of issues including applying for benefits.

There are a proportion of patients who will not be able to access these community provisions during the early stages of their treatment. As a result the Wells Road Centre has worked extremely hard to become a satellite campus of the Trust Recovery College and as such will be providing a range of educational and skills based sessions from the Recovery College Prospectus, within our Centre, to our in-patients. This will include support around applying for and accessing benefits. Finally, the Wells Road Centre will link with other Trust Directorates to ensure that the most up to date literature and practical guidance will be available to patients across the Wells Road Centre”.

Kind regards

Andy Latham, General Manager and Lorraine Lockley, Modern Matron

Well's Road Centre,

Low Secure Service

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Update posted by Advocacy Together (a volunteer/advocate)

Thank you for your prompt response and I note the contents and your reassurance that the Trust involvement Centre and Recovery College at Duncan Mcmillan House are going to provide "the support offerred by this post" (Tust Benefits Officer).

The Trust Benefits Officer has responded to requests for help from patients, visiting the wards, completing forms, following up complex benefits and other financial issues, negotiating with other agencies etc. He has been easily contactable and able to respond quickly thus reassuring patients who are often experiencing extreme mental distress which can be compounded by financial difficulties. He has been able to visit patients on the ward which is valuable as many patients are unable to leave the wards. He has extensive knowledge and skills so can help settle people and offer reassurance which gives confidence to people.

I have contacted the Recovery College who appear to have no knowledge of being identified as a replacement for the service provided by the Trusts Benefits Officer.

Whilst I would welcome the proposed courses on benefits it is very clear that this will not replace the valuable, personal, easily accessible service offerred by the Benefits Officer identified above. Indeed I believe the 2 hour course provided by The Recovery College will only run periodically with limited numbers of places available to patients.

My concerns about the loss of this service remain and are shared by many other patients within the Wells Road Centre. Myself and fellow patients at The Wells Road Centre would feel far more reassured if there was a more defined, specific replacement for the service provided by the Benefits Officer than that outlined in your initial response. I hope you are able to clarify how these complex, individual patient needs are going to be met in the future



Response from Yvonne Bird, Community Forensics OT, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

Firstly we would like to apologise for any misleading information given within our first response in regard to support offered by the Recovery college and Involvement centres around benefits. The support offered is via gaining the understanding of the benefits system as opposed to individual advice.

It is important that we do acknowledge that the service that was provided at the Wells Road Centre will no longer be available, this undoubtably will be a great loss.

What we need to focus on is what will be available:

Courses delivered at the Recovery college that will develop your own understanding of the benefits system.

We are currently organising for staff to attend a course which will enable them to support and signpost patients to gain relevant advice in managing their benefits

We are liaising with the course facilitator in regard to further training

we will facilitate wherever possible for patients to access the community facilities that are available for one to one benefit advice.

We will display posters and have leaflets available with useful contact numbers and will facilitate any calls in relation to benefits advice free of charge

We will ensure that all patients at the Well's Road Centre are informed of the future changes and hear their views via ward community meetings and any feedback from these meetings will be fed into the management team

Thank you for your comments

Andy Latham, General Manager and Lorraine Lockley, Modern Matron

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Updates, changes and questions related to this story