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Friday, 5 August 2011

Care user praises Council’s revolutionary Empower card

Empower 1000th user

A woman has talked about how the Council’s revolutionary Empower card has helped to give her a better quality of life.

June Haycock, 81, of Meads Road, Alsager, is the 1,000th person to register to use the card – a unique pre-loaded VISA card for individuals across Cheshire East who receive a personal budget for the costs of their social care.

Mrs Haycock’s husband John, 83, was diagnosed with dementia in February and June cares for him around the clock, with support from Council social care workers.

The disease has understandably presented a big challenge to Mrs Haycock – but thanks to assistance from the Council and Empower, she feels she is finding her feet adjusting to a new way of life.

She said: “I do think the Empower card is a wonderful idea and it has given me more flexibility to pay our bills.

“John will sometimes ask if the bills need paying but I find I can reassure him because I now have more peace of mind. I am a very independent person and the card allows me to maintain that.

“I was very surprised when I was told that I could use the card for us to get out of town and stay away somewhere, I can see there are many benefits to using it.”

With the assistance of the Council, Mrs Haycock is able to spend a couple of hours every week at the local supermarket in Kidsgrove, and she has the option of extending her care support.

She added: “John and I have a good relationship with the care team and I would honestly recommend them to anyone.”

Mrs Haycock now does not have to manage as much paperwork as all the card’s transactions are logged via a monthly statement and her care manager is able to oversee her husband’s budget much more efficiently.

Take-up of the Empower is growing rapidly on a daily basis. It is the first of its kind in the country and was developed by Cheshire East to give care users greater independence to make their own choices and decisions.

Councillor Olivia Hunter, Cabinet support member with responsibility for adult services, said: “I am delighted to see that more and more people are turning to the Empower card to assist them with their daily lives.

“And it is heartening to know that care users and their families are finding they can live much more independently than they perhaps could in the past.

“Cheshire East Council strives to improve quality of life for all of our residents by giving them choice, access and control.”

The Empower card has already been recognised in major awards ceremonies and it won the Personalisation and Choice Achievement of the Year title in the MJ Awards in June.

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