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Statutory Benefits and Children

Statutory Benefits and Children

Catastrophic injuries to children and young people

Catastrophic injuries to children or young people have devastating effects on both the child and their loved ones and often mean long-term special care requirements that can be financially overwhelming for the child’s family due to increased costs or lost income because of time off work needed to provide care.

Early intervention is critical to ensure the support required is quickly put in place and as much of those precious childhood years are preserved. Bush & Co has a team of specialist Children and Young People Case Managers who each has the knowledge and expertise needed to access the services available to support children and their families.

Children and young people can suffer a range of catastrophic injuries at birth or due to an illness or accident, such as acquired or traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, or limb loss. The type and severity of injury can result in partial or total paralysis and can impact all aspects of a child’s life, resulting in them needing significant levels of long-term care

Benefits for children

Caring for a child or young person following life-changing injury or trauma carries both an emotional and financial cost. The emotional cost is incalculable, but the financial burden can be beyond the means of many families, making them reliant on additional support to provide the care services needed to provide a positive and fulfilling life for their child.

The Disability Living Allowance (DLA) provides help with the extra costs of looking after a child under 16 with ongoing care needs due to disability, illness, or an underlying health condition. The DLA rate is between £24.45 and £156.90 a week and has two parts, with support given to those who qualify in either one of these areas or in both.

Care – for a child or young person requiring extra care and support during or throughout the day or night, or with a terminal illness. Support is available from 3 months after the birth of the child and is offered on three levels based on how much extra care and support needed.

  • Lowest – available if additional care or support is needed for part of the day
  • Middle – available if additional care or support is needed during the day or night, or whilst the child is on dialysis to treat kidney failure
  • Highest – available if additional care or support is needed during the day and night, or if the child has a terminal illness

Mobility – this element has two rates and is for children needing care and support with movement and getting around.

  • Lower – available from the age of 5 if the child needs support when walking or supervision when outdoors.
  • Higher – available from the age of 3 to children unable to walk, or only able to walk short distances without severe discomfort of becoming ill.

In addition to a DLA, parents or carers over the age of 16 can apply for direct payments support to help provide a range of equipment or services or to fund any home adaptations that may be required. The budget for direct payments is held by local authorities and eligibility is determined via a needs assessment which is completed by a council representative such as a social worker or occupational therapist.

Subject to meeting specified criteria, Disabled Facilities Grants may also be available from local councils to meet the costs of making changes that enable access to your home and to all the rooms and facilities inside.

Applying for DLA

The DLA requires the child or young person to have presented symptoms for 3 months and with the expectation those symptoms will continue for a minimum of 6 months after a claim is made. Claims must be made by the child’s parent or carer, and they must be 16 or 18 years old or above respectively.

The application process is lengthy and detailed, requiring submission of a form containing more than 20 pages with supporting documents that may include prescriptions, medical reports, and health care plans.

Its completion coincides with families coming to terms with devastating changes to their lives and many find it an overwhelming exercise.

Vicky Jackson is a paediatric case manager and registered nurse working as part of the specialist team at Bush & Co and gives in insight into the challenges faced by families.

“The DLA claim form explores every aspect of the child’s life in assessing whether extra care and support is needed. It can be rather repetitive and take several hours to complete, as it requires supporting documentation and input from medical professionals. The process represents a daunting prospect for many parents and carers at a time when they are emotionally drained by recent events that may have an impact on their family forever. As case managers, we provide whatever level of support people need to complete their applications and ensure they can access the resources essential to their child having an improved quality of life.”

The DLA is not means-tested and is therefore available to everyone, regardless of income or savings. This includes any funds that may be awarded at settlement, which are administered separately by the Court of Protection, so they do not negatively impact entitlement.

Once a child reaches the age of 16, they cease to be eligible for a DLA and transfer to a Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

The role of case managers

A case manager is central to the delivery of comprehensive rehabilitation plans for children and young people who have suffered a catastrophic injury. Parents are often unaware of their entitlement to DLA or other forms of support or may lack the motivation to explore their options at such a challenging time. Case managers are there to help families, signposting them to additional services and acting as a conduit for communications with multidisciplinary teams assigned to deliver complex care packages involving medical, physical, and emotional support.

Although the DLA itself is not means tested, successful applications can impact other benefits a family might receive that are, such as Universal Credit. Case managers can coordinate reviews of all benefits entitlement to ensure families receive the maximum support available to them.

Vicky Jackson gives an example of where this support can help:

“We worked with a client who was a wheelchair user with no independent limb movement, was gastrostomy fed and required the use of a hoist for all transfers around the home and when attending appointments, but their existing DLA only awarded a mid-range care component. Our support enabled the family to secure the higher rate of support which made a significant difference to their ability to meet the costs of additional equipment they needed in their everyday lives.”

Bush & Co children and young people’s case management

Paediatric case managers at Bush & Co are experienced clinicians who specialise in working with children and young people following life-changing injuries. Their detailed knowledge of child development enables them to implement tailored rehabilitation plans and supporting frameworks that place the child at the centre of all decisions impacting their rehabilitation.

  • Immediate needs assessments adapted for children and young people including children focused outcome measures, developmental markers, considered use of language, and specific functional evaluations
  • Tailored paediatric case management documentation which includes our Rehab Update Reports which introduce the child’s view on their rehabilitation and progress related to different aspects of their lives

Supported by a clinical management team with specialist paediatric care experience and training, our case managers provide levels of support aligned with the needs of the child and their family with the flexibility in approach to address their changing needs as they grow, mature, and develop.