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The impact of our Welfare Advisor

Rosie Mercado is our Welfare Advisor and her work supporting our patients and carers has never been more needed than it is now.

During coronavirus, the Crawley community suffered greatly through furlough and redundancies. Add the recent cost of living increases and people are struggling. This struggle becomes even more difficult for local families living with terminal illness.

In fact, there has never been such financial hardship for patients during the history of St Catherine’s as there is today.

Often when people are referred to us, Rosie finds they and their family, friends and carers have been struggling alone without support

People have often felt overwhelmed with forms, questions, and navigating what help they may or may not be entitled too, as they try to come to terms with a terminal diagnosis and all the impacts that brings.

Rosie eases financial pressure and worry for people we care for by supporting them to maximise income via benefits they’re entitled to

She often makes people aware of benefits or options to apply for grants that they didn’t know they could apply for, meticulously researching what is best for each individual person and circumstance. She also offers people advice on making or updating wills and fuel costs. When people can’t talk on the phone or can’t get to the hospice, she sees them at home.

Last year she took over the issuing of certificates for people who have six months or less left to live

This allows people to get maximum benefits as quickly as possible. These certificates used to be completed by local GPs but Kate Wells, our Lead for Emotional Support and Rosie brought this in-house. Having access to extra benefits so quickly has a big impact on local families during a time it’s needed most. Rosie and our medical team complete at least 8 certificates a week and are in discussions with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about starting to get some payments for this which will create additional income at a time our hospice has suffered financially because of the pandemic.

Each week the number of people needing Rosie’s help has increased and referrals can range from 2-5 people per working day

Her caseload is currently 80 people and in the last seven months alone, Rosie has helped 360 people under our care.

Her work has a huge impact on our patients

One patient said, “Rosie has given my daughter so much advice and support – she’s been marvellous. When I was diagnosed, there was so much paperwork to handle but I was too ill to manage it, so it all fell to my daughter. Neither of us had any idea where to start. My diagnosis hit us like a bullet, but we knew we had to get things in order. Rosie has helped us so much – I don’t know where we’d be without her.”

Another relative told us, “Rosie helped us get a blue badge for our car and helped me to get the attendance allowance benefit. I’ve never had any financial help before while caring for my husband. I just thought wow! I wasn’t expecting that kind of support.”

A further patient shared how Rosie’s ‘understanding, kindness and professionalism in such a difficult time in my life is so appreciated’ after she helped them sort out various benefits.

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