Posted: Tuesday 31st October 2017
The Hertfordshire Macmillan Benefits Advice team has been awarded the Advice Quality Standard (AQS); the quality mark for organisations that provide advice to the public on social welfare issues. Macmillan Cancer Support and Hertfordshire County Council have been granted the standard for their partnership work on the service, which ensures people diagnosed with cancer, their families, and carers across Hertfordshire can access accurate, relevant and timely benefits advice.
As well as this achievement, in the first eight months of the partnership, the team assisted over 600 people affected by cancer to gain an additional £1 million to help with the extra costs of cancer. The service receives around 100 new referrals a month from professionals working with health partners at NHS hospitals, Macmillan Information Support Centres, hospices, social workers, voluntary agencies and many others.
Gary Vaux, Benefits Adviser and Head of the Money Advice Unit at Hertfordshire County Council explains:
“During cancer, additional costs such as travel to hospital appointments, increased heating bills and parking charges can all mount up. We know that four out of five people are, on average, £570 a month worse off as a result of a cancer diagnosis.”
“People face a significant loss of household income because they may be too unwell to work. Family members may also have to take unpaid leave to care for them. The Hertfordshire Macmillan Welfare Benefits Service makes sure people affected by cancer can access welfare benefits advice at the right time and minimise the financial stress.”
Feedback from service users has also been positive, with 82% of people saying the service had contributed to their ability to cope with cost of cancer and 93% thought it helped them to understand and make decisions. The service is making a real impact to people’s lives, with users stating;
"When my husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer we could not think clearly; we had no idea how we would manage financially. Having an advisor to sort benefits for us took that worry away.”
"The help and advice didn't stop when my husband passed away. The new issues were dealt with as well; if I needed advice it was given freely and I shall be eternally grateful.”
“It doesn't only help me financially but as a whole; I have self-respect and importance.”
Louise Osbourne, Macmillan’s Partnership Manager for Hertfordshire, said:
“We are delighted that the Hertfordshire Macmillan Benefits Advice Service has achieved the AQS; it shows the service is meeting the needs of people affected by cancer.”
“The award is a fantastic endorsement of the service, and of the people delivering it at Lister Hospital and other sites around Hertfordshire. I’m really proud that the team are offering quality support to so many people in the area.”
Colette Wyatt-Lowe, Executive Member for Adult Care and Health said:
“We’re so pleased that the service has been awarded the AQS; it’s key that all residents receive the best quality of support when they need it, and this is another example of great partnership working to deliver that.”
“I would like to congratulate the team and all of the partners involved for their efforts to provide some relief to people in what must be an already very difficult situation for them and their loved ones.”
Regular benefits advice clinics are held at Watford General Hospital, Grove House Hospice, Hospice of St Francis and the Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Centre at Lister Hospital. If you or someone you know would like to find out about the support available, please visit www.macmillan.org.uk/moneyworries or contact your local Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Centre and let us ‘Make Money One Less Worry’.