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Proactive, targeted benefits advice for older people in general practice: a feasibility study

By: D. Toeg, L. Mercer, S. Iliffe, P. Lenihan

The aim of the present project was to assess a welfare benefits and advice screening programme offered in a systematic and inclusive way to all patients aged 80 years and over registered with a single general practice. The setting was an inner-city National Health Service group practice with a total of seven full-time general practitioners (GPs) and a list size of 12 000 patients. A total of 280 patients were identified as aged 80 years and over. Using a combination of telephone calls, surgery attendances and home visits, an advice worker contacted as many of these patients as possible. A wide range of advice and assistance of both a statutory and non-statutory nature was offered. Follow-up contacts and liaison with the patients’ own GPs were arranged as necessary. Contact was made with a total of 206 patients. In total, the adviser made 98 home visits and carried out 82 consultations in the surgery, as well as undertaking 109 interviews over the phone. The findings indicate that an overall total of pound 137 819 was gained in increased annual income amongst the screened patients; in addition, a further pound 11 433 was awarded in one-off payments. A wide range of other benefits and help, including referral to other services and organisations, was gained. Elderly patients within the practice were under-claiming benefits and had many previously unidentified needs. Adopting a proactive and inclusive approach to offering welfare and advice takes time and expense, but the resulting benefits make it worthwhile. Primary care is an effective base from which advice can be delivered and the development of closer working relationships between primary care and advice services can be an effective and efficient way of helping patients.

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Uploaded on: Dec 11, 2015
Last Updated: Dec 15, 2015
Year Published: 2002
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