A pensioner who cares for his wife said he was finally able to put the heating on after ‘life changing’ hospital discharge support increased the couple’s finances by £15,000 a year.

Officers from East Ayrshire Carers Centre got in touch with him about support when his wife was being discharged from hospital.

East Ayrshire Integration Joint Board heard from Older People’s Support Worker, David Reid, about the work of the service.

David spoke about the efforts of Lorna Rowan and John Scally, who are hospital discharge workers at East Ayrshire Carers Centre.

David told the board that John and Lorna’s roles could be described as ‘smoothing’ the process for unpaid carers who are responsible for patients being discharged from hospital.

The roles are more important than ever, with delayed discharges driving many of the waiting time issues in Ayrshire.

David explained the approach during a presentation on Wednesday.

He said that the service was in contact with patients and carers to find out what support can be put in place to allow them to be discharged effectively.

He said: “There have been quite a few cases where family members are maybe not in the right frame of mind to provide care and support for the family member that would allow them to be discharged from hospital.

“In some cases this can just be something as simple as making dinners.

“One man’s wife was back in hospital and he came in to ask what we could do.

“We identified that he had quite ill health himself.”

The team then went through a benefits maximisation process that resulted in the husband receiving attendance allowance, as well as a council tax discount and other supports like free glasses.

Mr Reid continued: “Now, after getting this in place along with pension credit, the couple are £15,000 a year better off.

“It has been a massive life changing situation for them.

“The husband came in to see me personally the other week to shake my hand and say thanks as he was now able to put his heating on.”

He added that while people see this in the media, it was a situation that he didn’t fully appreciate until he saw it first hand.

Mr Reid also pointed out the value of more modest interventions.

He said that the team was able to step in and provide around £200 to support the carer, whether that involves taking a break or finding other ways to ease their stress.

Mr Reid explained: “One lady liked jigsaws but she had given it up because she just couldn’t find the time.

“She let slip that she didn’t really have a comfortable space to do her jigsaws.

“She didn’t have a desk or anything. So we managed to get her a big jigsaw table.

“It is quite a valuable piece of work and isn’t just about getting people discharged quicker, it is about having the right supports in place when they do.”

East Ayrshire Council Leader Douglas Reid praised the efforts, saying: “Small interventions can make a big difference in folks’ lives. We really appreciate the work you are doing. The maximisation is life changing and liberating to whole families.”