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Almost half of UK employees ‘disguising’ mental health problems as physical illnesses at work, study finds

Almost half of UK employees ‘disguising’ mental health problems as physical illnesses at work, study finds

A new report has indicated that almost half of UK workers are ‘disguising’ their mental health issues as physical illnesses at work due to a fear of what their employers might think of them.

The new research published by health insurance provider BHSF, has revealed that some 42 per cent of employees have called in sick claiming to be suffering from flu, viral infections and more when in reality they are grappling with a mental health issue, such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder.

Upon surveying just over 1,000 full-time employees across the UK, BHSF found that as few as 15 per cent felt comfortable speaking to their boss about mental health issues.

The report, entitled Hiding in plain sight: mental health in the workplace, also found that workplace stress was worryingly common among respondents, with more than half (56 per cent) of those surveyed citing ‘stress’ as an issue.

A further third (36 per cent) of respondents said that work-related anxiety had affected their mental health, while a quarter (25 per cent) said that they were suffering from depression.

Perhaps more worryingly, however, the survey found that the vast majority (88 per cent) of employees felt that work was either the main cause of – or a contributing factor to – their ongoing mental health issues.

Despite this, just 21 per cent said that they had received some form of mental health support from their employer, while almost two thirds (63 per cent) voiced concerns that there was a ‘stigma’ attached to mental health in their workplace, especially among their colleagues.

Dr Philip McCrea, of BHSF, said that the report should be viewed as a “reality check” for employers, whom he said needed to be “more proactive” in offering mental health support by placing a focus on “early intervention.”

“The scale of this problem is huge, and it is being massively underestimated by employers, with employees feeling that they have to mask the issues they are facing,” he said.

“A more open culture must be created in workplaces across the UK, and employers have to take responsibility for this change.”

Samantha Randall, a Palmers Solicitor and employment law expert, said: “Mental health is now a massive issue in the workplace. Employers need to ensure that they provide employees with the optimum conditions where they feel they do not need to hide issues they are facing.”

For professional and independent advice on any aspect of employment law, please contact us.

Dementia atlas spotlights postcode variations in care

Dementia atlas spotlights postcode variations in care

The Government has published a ‘dementia atlas’, which reveals the postcode lottery that exists across England for people affected by the condition.

The atlas maps five themes of care – prevention, diagnosis, support, living with dementia and end of life care – using benchmarks for each.

Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt has said that the new atlas should help drive improvements by helping to identify which areas are currently falling short in the services they offer to dementia sufferers.

Statistics show that in areas such as Aylesbury and North East Lincolnshire, around 85 per cent of patients receive face to face consultations but in other areas, for example Somerset, the figure is as low as 50 per cent.

Dementia charities are now calling for an end to postcode variation, arguing that regional variations in population density and age may explain some but not all of the differences in the level of care.

George McNamara from the Alzheimer’s Society charity said: "The causes of variation need to be investigated to ensure care is never a gamble."

Caroline Abrahams of Age UK said: "In some areas we know help is really good but elsewhere services are frankly not up to scratch, with only a few people receiving at least an annual review of their care following diagnosis.

"This is an unacceptable postcode lottery of care. We must continue efforts to improve both access to, and quality of, care for the growing number of us living with dementia."

Currently there are 676,000 people living with dementia in England and this figure is set to rise. Mr Hunt said that by publishing the current levels of care "we are shining a spotlight on areas where there is still work to be done, whilst highlighting where we can learn from best practice".

The atlas also shows which areas of England are deemed to be dementia-friendly communities – places that have taken steps to make life easier for people with dementia and their carers, for example training local retailers on how to assist customers with the condition.

A large part of the West Midlands and Yorkshire are now dementia-friendly, but many other regions in the north and south are lagging behind.

Lee McClellan, a partner with Palmers who specialises in Older Client legal issues said: “The government’s atlas graphically illustrates that there is a great deal of disparity in the care and support available to dementia sufferers and their families.

“The results are shocking, but not altogether unexpected. They force each of us to consider the future.

“At Palmers, we can provide sensitive advice and practical support with issues including creating and registering Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA), applications to the Court of Protection and issues relating to the provision and funding of long-term care.”

A number of Palmers’ lawyers and support staff are trained Dementia Friends. The firm is also involved with the Southend Dementia Action Alliance, initiated by Southend Council, which aims to make Southend a Dementia Friendly area.

For more information on our Older Client services, please contact us.

Dementia atlas spotlights postcode variations in care

Dementia atlas spotlights postcode variations in care

The Government has published a ‘dementia atlas’, which reveals the postcode lottery that exists across England for people affected by the condition.

The atlas maps five themes of care – prevention, diagnosis, support, living with dementia and end of life care – using benchmarks for each.

Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt has said that the new atlas should help drive improvements by helping to identify which areas are currently falling short in the services they offer to dementia sufferers.

Statistics show that in areas such as Aylesbury and North East Lincolnshire, around 85 per cent of patients receive face to face consultations but in other areas, for example Somerset, the figure is as low as 50 per cent.

Dementia charities are now calling for an end to postcode variation, arguing that regional variations in population density and age may explain some but not all of the differences in the level of care.

George McNamara from the Alzheimer’s Society charity said: "The causes of variation need to be investigated to ensure care is never a gamble."

Caroline Abrahams of Age UK said: "In some areas we know help is really good but elsewhere services are frankly not up to scratch, with only a few people receiving at least an annual review of their care following diagnosis.

"This is an unacceptable postcode lottery of care. We must continue efforts to improve both access to, and quality of, care for the growing number of us living with dementia."

Currently there are 676,000 people living with dementia in England and this figure is set to rise. Mr Hunt said that by publishing the current levels of care "we are shining a spotlight on areas where there is still work to be done, whilst highlighting where we can learn from best practice".

The atlas also shows which areas of England are deemed to be dementia-friendly communities – places that have taken steps to make life easier for people with dementia and their carers, for example training local retailers on how to assist customers with the condition.

A large part of the West Midlands and Yorkshire are now dementia-friendly, but many other regions in the north and south are lagging behind.

Lee McClellan, a partner with Palmers who specialises in Older Client legal issues said: “The government’s atlas graphically illustrates that there is a great deal of disparity in the care and support available to dementia sufferers and their families.

“The results are shocking, but not altogether unexpected. They force each of us to consider the future.

“At Palmers, we can provide sensitive advice and practical support with issues including creating and registering Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA), applications to the Court of Protection and issues relating to the provision and funding of long-term care.”

A number of Palmers’ lawyers and support staff are trained Dementia Friends. The firm is also involved with the Southend Dementia Action Alliance, initiated by Southend Council, which aims to make Southend a Dementia Friendly area.

For more information on our Older Client services, please contact us.

Councils are failing their care duties, charity claims

Startling studies conducted by Independent Age have called into question whether local authorities are meeting their care obligations to provide support to elderly and vulnerable adults in Britain.

Research found that many local authorities are failing to meet the legal minimum standards of the Care Act 2014 in regards to the information they provide on their care services.

70 per cent of care providers were unable to demonstrate that they offered sufficient online information in all areas required by the Act. Only 52 per cent gave a ‘good response’ to probing questions, 34 per cent gave ‘unsatisfactory answers’ and 5 per cent gave a ‘partial response’.

In 23 per cent of cases, surveyors found that it ‘difficult’ to find the relevant number to call on the Council’s website – and, in 9 per cent, callers were unable to get through. Independent Age also found that Councils were failing to properly record top-up fees paid by service users. Top-up fee contracts were not always negotiated with a Council’s knowledge, meaning that the true extent of top-up fee payments was often unknown.

Some Councils were unaware of their financial liability and many were found to have failed to fulfil their legal responsibility to ensure relatives were ‘able and willing’ to pay.

Drastic differences in top-up fee approaches were recorded between Councils, with some minimising their use and others regarding them as routine.

In some cases, Councils switched positions, causing confusion to care providers – and few Councils urged relatives to seek specialist advice before signing top-up fee contracts.

Tim Steele, Partner at Palmers, said: “The reports are pretty damning in their findings. There appears to be a significant shortfall both in the way councils provide information to members of the public and the lack of consistency in the way they deal with care home top up fees.

“Relatives trying to make sense of their loved ones’ care fees, are clearly facing an uphill battle as the whole situation appears to be unreliable and lacks transparency.

“This underlines the value of seeking expert legal advice for those facing a need for long-term care and their families. Advice obtained at an early stage can significantly reduce the amount paid by individuals for their care”.

Our Older Client team at Palmers Solicitors specialise in advising on all aspects of residential and nursing care, including liability for long-term fees and top-up payments. For more information, please contact our South Woodham Ferrers team at enquiries@palmerslaw.co.uk.

Care home funding shortfalls exposed

Care home funding shortfalls exposed

The government recently pledged £940 million to improve mental health services across the country.

In his announcement, the prime minister stated that the increased funding sent a strong message to “let people know that they’re not in this alone, that when the clouds descend, they don’t have to suffer silently”.

Whilst this is unquestionably a positive move and a step in the right direction for mental health services, another group of vulnerable people – those in need of care home services – could argue that they too have been suffering in silence and that their needs continue to be neglected.

Prior to the joint Autumn Statement and Spending Review in 2015, think tank ResPublica published a report exposing a £1.1 billion funding gap in the care home sector.

It claimed a third of this gap was as a result of the government’s unfunded pledge to deliver a national living wage, forcing care home providers to divert funds away from services and into payroll demands.

Providers have complained that councils are unwilling or unable to pay the market rate for the services they require, stopping them from increasing prices.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer sought to help councils by allowing them to increase council tax by 2 per cent, declaring that this measure would help them raise £2 billion, which they would have to use exclusively to fund care costs.

Whilst on the face of it this would appear to be positive news, according to calculations by another think tank, Kings Fund, the increase is only likely to raise £800 million.

Furthermore, the councils that need the greatest level of government support are in the most impoverished areas, which will consequently have the smallest tax bases to tap into.

Care industry commentators are also questioning what the government has done with the £6 billion saved by deferring the implementation of the funding element of the Care Act 2014 until 2020.

Lee McClellan, a partner in Palmers’ Older Client department, who advises on long-term care issues, said: “Even before the increased estimates of the funding shortfalls, it had long been said that the reduced fees paid by the councils towards residents they were funding meant that those who were meeting care fees from their own funds were effectively subsidising council funded residents. These latest reports add to the view that those seeking council funding for their care needs will face greater difficulty in obtaining the same and that private funders will be charged even more by care providers desperate to balance their budgets.

“This underlines the value of seeking expert legal advice both for those seeking to access council funded services and for private funders seeking to avoid paying more care fees than necessary. For more information, please contact our Older Client team.”

Shocking new figures show scale of dementia crisis

One in three people born this year will develop dementia, according to a new study.

Alzheimer’s Research UK, which commissioned the analysis, says it further underscores a situation increasingly accepted to be a ‘looming national health crisis’.

In response, the charity is calling for greater efforts to develop new treatments.

Dr Matthew Norton, head of policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “It’s wonderful news that each generation is living longer than the last, but it’s important to ensure that people can enjoy these extra years in good health.

“Dementia is our greatest medical challenge and, if we are to beat it, we must invest in research to find new treatments and preventions.

“Research has the power to transform lives and our actions now will help determine the future for children born today.”

The latest study, carried out by the Office of Health Economics, show 27 per cent of boys born in 2015 will develop the condition in their lifetime, alongside 37 per cent of girls.

George McNamara, head of policy at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Dementia is already the biggest health challenge this country faces. It costs the UK in excess of £26bn, which equates to £30,000 per person with dementia – more than the cost of either cancer or heart disease.”

Previous research from the Office of Health Economics has estimated that the development of a drug that could delay dementia by five years would cut the number of cases by a third.

Alzheimer’s Society has pledged to put at least £100m into research over the next decade.

Lee McClellan, a partner in Palmers’ older client team, said: “The figures are shocking, but not altogether unexpected. They force each of us to consider the future.

“At Palmers, we can provide sensitive advice and practical support with issues including creating and registering Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA), applications to the Court of Protection and protecting assets for family members in the event that long-term residential care is required. For more information, please contact us.