Monday, 25 May 2015

...And Yet...

I still got a penalty fine notice from the NHS regarding my daughter's visit to the hygenist.  Had a very unpleasant phone conversation with one of their operators who told me at one point 'Just because your daughter has Down's Syndrome doesn't meant she is entitled to free health care'.  I beg to differ...
Whizzed off a letter the same day, enclosing copies of her ESA letter and the new HC2 form and complaining strongly about this guy's attitude on the phone,  and got a letter back practically by return post saying they were closing this matter.  Wish I could count on that - we shall see next time.

Why is everything always a battle?

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

And Done!

It took a month, but everything I filled in forms for in April has come through successfully - passport took a fortnight, the health form took three weeks and the change in benefits took a month, but everything is sorted out and we are on an even keel once again.  Let's hope it lasts!
Here's my lovely daughter having a wonderful time bothering some farm animals...

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

On Getting It Done

One of the worst things I find is filling in long forms on my daughter's behalf.  There is always the worry that I haven't done it right, have I left something important out or put something I shouldn't in; will it affect our status quo detrimentally or will there be an improvement?

I've had to complete several forms for her this past ten days - first was the re-assessment for E.S.A., which was a doozy.  About 30 pages long, and I found it very confusing and daunting.  I have to confess I began it last week, got disheartened and left it for about five days before plucking up the courage to get it finished.  It had to be done because she is in the wrong grouping apparently and has lost eligibility for free prescriptions and dental care, as well as receiving less money than she should.  So if all goes as it ought to, we should be better off - but I still have that underlying silly fear that by poking the bear with a stick, I might jeopardise what we have at the moment.  I'm a relatively intelligent woman, these forms should not phase me, but they do.

Second was an application for an HC1 which is a form stating that she is entitled to help with medical costs, to tide us over until the ESA is sorted out.  Not quite such a long form but still confusing to me.

Third was a passport renewal form - easy enough, even I can handle that one!  However, the post office clerk rejected our application on the basis that in my daughter's photo one strand of hair was touching her eyebrow. Hmmm.  Was she correct or did I cheese her off by asking for a 'quick check & send'?  I meant nothing by it, but her response was that it would be as quick as she was able...oh dear.  So, it had to wait a week until my daughter had another free morning and off we trotted to the photographer to get it re-done.  There then ensued a public showdown between me and my daughter as she point blank refused to have her hair brushed back from her eyes and was recoiling and fending me off as if she is beaten on a regular basis, while the very young photographer is looking on in horror.  I  finally managed to get the fringe away from her eyes and luckily the lad responded to my "do it now, quick!" with speed.  After a few attempts (blinking, mouth open) we got a decent picture.  Note, all staff at the photographers could not understand why the original photo had been rejected.
We then walked the ten yards to the post office and submitted our form to a different clerk.  All went through ok this time, and to satisfy my curiosity, I showed him the previous photo and asked if he would have passed it.  This (very experienced) chap said he would not have had a problem with it, although did admit the second photo was probably better.  So it would appear I had wasted a week due to some lady's bad attitude...nice.

I cannot explain why I find this all so difficult, but it causes me endless worry. Perhaps because it's a heavy burden to bear all round, and this just adds to it or perhaps because you are always at the mercy of some clerk or other who really doesn't care about your personal circumstances and might just be having a bad day themselves.  Now I have to try not get myself in a state while I wait for the outcome...

Sunday, 15 March 2015

ESA/Income Support/Free Dental Care - Confusion

A while back we were told that my daughter had to stop getting her dental care at Farnham Special Dental Care Unit and move to Aldershot Health Centre.  This appeared to be an administrative decision more about catchment areas than whether or not people were getting the appropriate care.  Needless to say, the change caused endless problems, the first being my daughter's aversion to anything new and different.  The new dentist is perfectly capable and a lovely woman, but in my daughter's eyes, she is a stranger and no way deserves any cooperation whatsoever.  We have had two years of clenched teeth, tears, struggles and as a result, below par care which has nothing to do with the poor dentist's efforts.  Despite appealing to the NHS office who ordered this change, we are stuck with their decision - I am wondering how long it will take before my daughter accepts the new setting & staff.  It took years for her to relax and be comfortable at the previous hospital, so I guess we are in for a long haul.

Coinciding with this, I then had letters after each treatment session threatening me with a hefty fine for claiming free dental treatment that apparently my daughter was not entitled to.  Each time I wrote back explaining that she was entitled and asking why we had been sent these worrying letters.  I never got a completely satisfactory explanation, just told that they had no records of her being entitled.  So it was time to do a bit of investigation.

It was fruitless trying to get through to any kind of Benefits helpline - I found that as such, it does not exist any more.  Trying to get through to the Job Centre Plus or any other relevant office was pretty hopeless too.  So I phoned the Down's Syndrome Association and got through to a very helpful lady who pointed me in the right direction.

It would seem that with the various changes to Income Support that have been put in place by various governments over the past few years, at some point my daughter was put into the wrong grouping.  Me being totally trusting of bureaucracy (silly me!) never queried the name changes or amounts involved, assuming that they knew what they were doing.  It would seem that around about the same time we had to change hospitals for dental care, ESA was introduced and we lost our entitlement to free medical care. 

So now I have to fill in a very thick form to get my daughter re-assessed as it would seem that not only is she in the wrong grouping for medical care, she is also receiving less money than she should be.

Yet again I wonder why it always has to be a battle in order to get anything done correctly - I find the form filling in daunting and soul-destroying and the temptation to leave things as they are is strong.  I'm not going to though, I'll just have to bite the bullet and get on with it, clenching my teeth very much in the manner of Stacie in the dentist's chair!