This is the second of two posts about U.K disability benefits DLA (Disability Living Allowance) and PIP (Personal Independent Plan). It is an article explaining what the Care part of the benefit is, the changes with PIP and what the benefit means to me.
Read the first post on mobility here.
The Care Component (Daily Living Component)
The care component is supposed to help someone who have their independence limited. Limitations can be anything from not being able to cook a meal, get dressed or any other daily activities, to independence outside and in the workplace.
This component is split into two or three rates: Low rate (now obsolete with PIP), Middle rate and Higher rate. As you can imagine, the more needs you need, the more you receive on a weekly basis. This can be from £22 to £88.
The money is used so that the individual can have some independence in things that they probably wouldn’t have without it. An example is my sologrip one-hand jar opener. Without that jar opener, I cannot open many things that have lids, whether that’s pill bottles, cooking sauces, pop (soda) bottles or cartons of milk.
But it’s not just the equipment we are paying for. Yes we use it for the equipment, but the equipment is expensive in three ways. The item itself and then the import costs – because often we have to import from overseas. Usually, because we can not try the equipment out first hand – either because it’s overseas or because they don’t have it in a disability centre, it is a trial and error thing and we don’t always buy the right equipment because of this. It took us many types of different electronic tin openers before we found one that would work without dangerously jamming.
The money offers me the ability to research equipment so that one day I don’t have to rely on family members or friends to do everyday things.
While I don’t mind being helped if I need help, I also don’t want to be a burden – not to mention there will be times when my family and friends are not there for various reason. One day in the future, I want a family, children – I don’t want my partner to see me as another dependent, or my children to become careers, I want to be a parent, a mom. So I rely on that money to become as independent as possible.
Will I ever be able to live fully by myself? I don’t know, I hope so.
Currently, I am content with the many things I can do through research, but there are many things I cannot do. and it’s a slow process learning ways around them.
- Filling a hot water bottle (not a good idea, last time it exploded),
- taking pills,
- tying my shoelaces,
- getting that ticket out of those stupid car-park barriers
- lifting shopping or removing dishes from ovens
- and more
All of those take me either an exceedingly long time or I need someone to help me do it. My family and friends are really supportive.
I do have some equipment to help with these tasks. I use a couple of heat packs in replacement of a hot water bottle at uni and I have a pill crusher but I do tend to spill some of the crushed tablets down the sink.
Eventually, I’ll have a job, I’ll be earning a wage and I’ll be paying back into the system. That is if PIP doesn’t think I am independent enough because then I’ll essentially be back at square one, independence wise. PIP has tightened the benefits and horror stories are going around. I am dreading the day I get my letter.