I&A Service Statement of Service

Information about Age Concern New Forest I&A Service for its clients

 What type of service do we offer:-
Age Concern New Forest can provide you with information and advice on a range of issues relating to older people (aged 55 and over), their rights and entitlements, local services and support available to them and those who care for and support them.  In particular we specialise in:
  • Welfare Benefits – advice for older people including working out if you are entitled to benefits and assisting people to complete the claim forms
  • Helping people to identify care and support services appropriate to their needs, accessing Adult Services and advising on how you can pay for care and support
  • Advising older people on housing issues including the maintenance and up keep of a property and considering different types of housing that might be appropriate as you get older, might need more support or want to move nearer to family
  • Advising older people on the services, support, group activities and concessions available locally
  • Helping people who are finding it hard to cope financially or are struggling to pay their bills

    In February 2019 our service was awarded the national Advice Quality Standard which ensures that the service meets recognised Advice Sector standards of practice and that the information and advice that we give is of a high quality and accurate.
Our service includes:
  • Information guides and factsheets on a wide range of subjects affecting older people and those who care for and support them

  • Telephone advice Monday to Friday between 10am and 1pm.  Please ring us on 023 8084 1199 or Freephone 0800 085 6625.  If you ring outside of our opening hours you will be able to leave a voice message and we will return you call the next working day

  • Office appointments can be arranged and will ensure that you will be seen straight away without having to wait.  We can also tell you about any documentation that we would need you to bring along with you.  To arrange an office appointment please contact our I&A team during office hours.  

  • Our office at Southward House, Beaulieu Road, Dibden Purlieu is fully accessible and we have a private meeting room.

  • Home visits can be arranged if necessary.  We will visit older people in their own homes for certain types of advice that cannot be provided over the telephone and when it would be difficult for the older person to attend the office.  For example we often visit people to complete welfare benefit application forms.  Home visits are expensive and time consuming so we do ask that our clients at least consider options for attend the office before requesting a home visit.  You will be asked about alternative ways we could provide the service to you when you ask for a home visit. It may be necessary to ask for a donation towards the cost of travelling depending on your location. If you would like to arrange a home visit please contact our I&A team during office hours.  We aim to carry out home visits within 2 – 3 weeks.

    What will happen if we cannot provide the service you require?

    Sometimes people will come to us with problems that we do not have the expertise or knowledge to help them with or that we do not have the appropriate licence to enable us to provide advice. 
    We are unable to provide consumer debt advice, financial advice or immigration advice because we do not hold the appropriate licences.  However, we work collaboratively across the New Forest with many organisation and we will signpost clients as necessary to ensure that their needs are met.

    We can provide you with basic information on almost any issue commonly experienced by older people but if you require advice we may have to direct you to another organisation.  Where possible we will give you a selection of organisations that you can choose from and we will either ‘signpost’ or ‘refer’ you to them. 
    When ‘signposting’ we will give you the organisation’s contact information so that you can contact them yourself.  When ‘referring’ we will contact the organisation on your behalf, arrange an appointment and provide them with copies of any documents already completed by our service.  We will always seek your consent before referring you to another organisation.

    Sometimes when advising you we will reach a point where we do not have the expertise to pursue your case further.  This most commonly happens when there is a need to challenge a welfare benefit decision.  In these circumstances we will refer you onto another local advice service that has the appropriate expertise.  

    How our service treats its clients

    In delivering the service we follow four key principles:

  • The service is provided free of charge.  You will not be charged for any of the information and advice you receive from this service.  If we signpost or refer you onto another organisation we will tell you if there is any charge for their service.  While we provide the service free of charge, running the I&A Service is expensive and we receive no funding for it.  Any donation that a client can make to help us maintain our service will be greatly accepted.  If you wish to donate please ask one of our staff or Volunteers.  

  • The information and advice we provide is independent of any outside influence.  We will never recommend a service or provider to you, including Age UKs own service.  We will always, where possible, provide you with a choice of alternatives and provide you with help to make an informed choice. Our service is not bound by local or national government policies and we will always seek to advise you as to what is in your best interest rather than that of the council, the Department for Work and Pensions, Age UK or any other organisation.  However we will not advise a client to take an action that is illegal or fraudulent.  If a client insists on pursuing an illegal or fraudulent course of action we will immediately cease to advise them and may notify the appropriate authorities.

  • We will treat all of your information as being confidentialAny information that we keep about you is stored securely and will only be viewed by information and advice staff and Volunteers involved in advising you or third parties that you have consented to us sharing the information with.  We will not discuss your case with anyone outside of our service without your consent or if they have been granted responsibility to act on your behalf by the Court of Protection or Department for Work and Pensions.  We will seek consent from you before sharing your information with other parties.  Common examples of third parties that your information may be shared with, following your consent, are external auditors that check the quality and accuracy of our work, organisations that we are referring your case onto and agencies that we are dealing with on your behalf (for example the DWP or an energy supplier).  There are three circumstances in which we may share your information without your consent.  They are:   
- if a client insists on taking an illegal or fraudulent course of action
- if we are contacted by a statutory body about a client we have advised who is suspected of taking an illegal or fraudulent action and is being investigated 
- and if we are concerned that an individual, that is involved in a case that we are advising on, is at risk of significant harm.  In such cases we may notify a relevant statutory body of our concern, for example  Adult Services or the police. 
  • Any data held by ACNF with client’s consent will be stored securely for 6 years from the last date of contact, in line with our GDPR policy. A client has the right to withdraw consent to retain data at any time during this retention period when it will be removed from storage and destroyed in the appropriate manner.
  • Under the Freedom of Information Act, clients have the right to see any information ACNF holds about them.  Any request of this kind will 
     be dealt with within 20 working days.  Clients will be asked what  information they wish to see and in what format.   Any information a 
     client asks to have destroyed will be done so securely and the client  will be advised as to how this is likely to impact on the service we 
     can provide for them in the future.

  • We will always treat our clients with respect and expect that our clients will treat our staff and Volunteers in the same way.  We will not judge our clients based on their age, disability, gender, sexuality, race or religion.  We will not judge our clients based upon the circumstance they find themselves in and we will not seek to influence the decisions you make following our advice.  Sometimes clients will make a decision that we would generally consider not to be in their best interest, we will inform them of this and aim to provide enough information and advice to help them make an informed choice.  We will respect whatever decision they then make.  Where clients have difficulties accessing or understanding our information and advice, for example because of a disability or language issue, we will attempt to take all reasonable steps to provide our service in a manner that is appropriate to your needs or circumstances and we will always aim to give you as much time as you need when we see you.
Teresa Blakey, CEO, Age Concern New Forest

The above statement is included on the Age Concern New Forest website I&A page on the wall of the ACNF I&A Office and is available as a printed or electronic document on request from an existing or potential client. 

 This statement is reviewed regularly (at least every 6 months) and updated if there are any changes to the nature of the service (e.g. change to opening hours). 
Once updated the new version replaces the previous document:

 - On the Age Concern New Forest website
 - On the wall of the ACNF I&A Office
 - On the I&A laptop - hard copies can be printed off for clients



















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