I was lucky enough to get away in November and spent ten days in the African heat. On arrival back Gatwick was shut, the rail network was at a virtual standstill and the long cold Winter had begun.
After a few weeks, here we are again. A foot of snow has fallen overnight and we are snowed in. The children have broken up from school and the snow has brought a buzz of excitement. Their only regret is that they left the toboggan outside and now it is nowhere to be found.
Against the background of this winter wonderland the news from the Coalition has come thick and fast. The Independent Living Fund (ILF) is to be phased out by 2015, Local Authority budgets cut by up to 10%, NHS funding to be overhauled, benefits to be re-engineered. The impact on social and health care for elderly people will be profound.
The world people are faced with when they suddenly have to take control of a loved ones care and finances is already bemusing. Every bank seems to have a different way of doing things, every assessment team has a different set of forms, every process seems to involve two or three different departments. If a benefit is being taken away it happens overnight. If you are eligible for NHS Continuing Care, or many other types of care, it takes months even years. Only too often, in your hour of need, you then have to make an application to the Court of Protection which can feel like trying to export nuclear weapons to Iran.
I have written a lot on this blog about planning. As far as possible try to see off these problems when you are able to. For instance, putting in place a Lasting Power of Attorney may rank in terms of time and money behind just about anything. It is an investment that everyone will thank you for if it is ever needed.