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Age UK - Hike in calls to advice line over winter as more people seek help

Age UK saw a 12 per cent increase in calls to its national advice line from older people seeking help this winter compared to the same period last year [i], with enquiries about residential care the most frequent reason for getting in touch.

Overall the charity answered a total of 54,000 calls [ii] to its advice line, Age UK Advice, over the winter period [iii], from people looking for information on a range of issues such as paying for care, care assessments, hospital discharge, home care services and benefits checks.[iv] This represented an eight per cent rise in total calls from the previous year, with the vast majority of the calls – nearly 37,000[v] – from older people themselves, an increase of 12% on the previous year.

Many of the calls the Charity receives are from family members as they are often the ones to notice a significant difference in the health or circumstances of an older relative if they haven’t seen them for a while. Concern often peaks over the traditional holidays such as the Christmas period when families get together – in fact Age UK saw a 32 per cent increase in calls to its national advice line from adult children over Christmas 2016 compared to the year before.

Advice about residential care, including questions on paying for residential and nursing care and arranging financial or care assessments, topped the list of enquiries that came through to the Charity’s level 2 advisers who handle longer, more complex enquiries and provide specific advice tailored to the individual’s circumstances.[vi]

 The top 5 issues (in order) that generated calls to Age UK Advice over the winter were:

1. Residential care

2. Health and disability

3. Legal advice

4. Non-residential care

5. Money benefits

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: 'The increase in calls to our advice line this winter throws a spotlight on the high numbers of older people who are now seeking help on a wide range of issues.

'Whilst it’s reassuring that people are turning to us for help and advice, we know that there are many more who are still unaware of the additional assistance and support that could be available for them or their loved one. In this time of uncertainty with social care Age UK Advice is a good place to turn for free impartial advice. As we leave winter behind for another year we would urge anyone who is worried about themselves, or an older family member or friend, to get in touch with us – by calling Age UK Advice free on 0800 169 65 65, visiting our website or contacting their local Age UK.'

Last year, Age UK helped over five million older people with information and advice on a broad range of issues such as claiming benefits, housing options, paying for care and support, staying healthy, and making the most of the internet. Age UK’s range of free, impartial information guides are also free to download and available to view online. As well as publishing guides and factsheets, the Charity offers essential support on a wide range of issues via its website and free Advice line. People looking for advice can call Age UK 365 days a year from 8am - 7pm on 0800 169 6565, or visit www.ageuk.org.uk.

Notes to editors

Age UK

We work with our national partners, Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI and our local Age UK partners in England (together the Age UK Family). We also work internationally for people in later life as a member of the DEC and with our sister charity Help Age International.

Age UK believes that everyone should have the opportunity to make the most of later life, whatever their circumstances. We provide free information, advice and support to over six million people; commercial products and services to over one million customers; and research and campaign on the issues that matter to people in later life. Our work focuses on five key areas: money matters, health and well-being, home and care, work and training and leisure and lifestyle.

Age UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee and registered in England (registered charity number 1128267 and company number 6825798). Age Concern England and Help the Aged (both registered charities), and their trading and other associated companies merged on the 1st April 2009. Together they have formed the Age UK Group (“we”). Charitable services are offered through Age UK and commercial products are offered by the Charity’s trading companies, which donate their net profits to Age UK (the Charity).

Media contact:

Helen Spinney or Karen Richards

Tel: 020 3033 1430

Email: helen.spinney@ageuk.org.uk or media@ageuk.org.uk

Out of hours: 07071 243 243

[i] The winter period runs from 1st December (2015/ 2016 respectively) to 28th February (2016/ 2017 respectively).

[ii] Exact figure: 53,932

[iii] The winter period is defined as above.

[iv] These were calls to the Level 1 part of Age UK Advice which is the first port of call when people call the Advice line. Level 1 phone calls are typically around 4 minutes and are information: sending guides and/ or factsheets, and/ or signposting elsewhere either within Age UK or externally.

[v] Actual number is 36,692 which makes up 68 per cent of the total number of calls.

[vi] Level 2 calls follow on from Level 1 calls (see above). Each call lasts around 20 minutes and provide advice in relation to that person’s circumstances.

For more information:Contact the Age UK Media team on: 020 3033 1430 (out of hours: 07071 243 243)

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