Know Your Rights
A: Seniors Alert Scheme
I am a pensioner and live with my daughter who works full-time. I am on my own a lot of the time and I’m worried about my safety. I would like to get a personal alarm but I can’t afford one.
The Seniors Alert Scheme gives support to provide and install monitored personal alarm systems to older people of limited means. The scheme aims to support older people to continue to live securely and independently in their homes. The scheme is available through local community, voluntary and not-for-profit organisations registered with Pobal, the non-profit company that administers the scheme.
The personal alarm is worn as a pendant around your neck or around your wrist like a watch and connects to a base unit in your home. When the alarm is activated, it automatically rings a helpline, which is open 24 hours a day, all year round. A helpline operator talks to you through the base unit and decides whether to alert a local volunteer responder or, if necessary, the emergency services.
The alarm monitoring service is free for the first year. After the first year, you pay an annual monitoring fee. Charges vary by provider and the type of alarm or pendant.
People aged 65 or over with limited means are eligible for the scheme. You must also be either living alone, living alone for most of the day, living with someone who also meets the eligibility criteria, or caring for someone else in your household. You must be able to benefit from the equipment being supplied and willing to maintain contact with the group administering the scheme. The equipment is supplied and installed for free, however you must return it to the registered group if no longer needed.
Contact the local group administering the scheme in your area to apply. Pobal publishes a list of all registered groups in the country on its website pobal.ie. You can also contact Pobal at (01) 511 7000 for details of your local group.
Know Your Rights
B: Carer’s Support Grant
I’m a full-time carer and getting Carer’s Allowance. Last year I got a Carer’s Support Grant – will I get it again this year?
The Carer’s Support Grant is an annual payment made to full-time carers. The payment for 2018 is €1,700. It is paid on the first Thursday of June each year.
If you are still getting a carer’s payment on the first Thursday in June, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) will pay the grant to you automatically, and you don’t need to apply.
People getting Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit or Domiciliary Care Allowance are paid the grant automatically. Full-time carers who are not getting one of these payments need to apply to the DEASP (unless they got the grant last year, in which case the Department will contact them about this year’s payment).
To qualify, you must be ordinarily resident in the State and caring for someone on a full-time basis for at least six months (including the first Thursday in June) and living with the person being cared for (or, if not, be contactable quickly by a direct system of communication, for example, telephone or alarm). The person you are caring for must not normally live in a hospital, convalescent home or similar establishment.
You won’t qualify if you are working, studying or training for more than 15 hours a week, getting Jobseeker’s Allowance or Jobseeker’s Benefit or signing on for credits.
To apply, fill in one application form (form CSG1) for each person being cared for (a grant may be paid for each person). Forms are available on welfare.ie. You can apply for the 2018 grant until 31 December 2019.
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.
Know Your Rights
C: European Health Insurance Card
My partner and I are planning a holiday in Spain. How do we access public healthcare services if one of us becomes ill when abroad?
You and your partner each need a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This card allows you to access public healthcare services if you become ill or get injured when travelling to or visiting certain European countries. It doesn’t cover private treatment or the cost of repatriation to Ireland if required.
The countries covered by the card are the 28 member states of the EU, the three other members of the EEA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway) and Switzerland. You don’t need the card for a visit to the UK if you can show that you are ordinarily resident in Ireland. In practice, this means showing a driving licence, passport or similar document.
If you have a smartphone you can download the free EHIC app. This includes emergency phone numbers and information about treatments and costs covered. The app does not replace the card.
If you already have a medical card or Drugs Payment Scheme card, you can apply online for your EHIC at ehic.ie.
Otherwise, you can download an application form from ehic.ie or get one from your Local Health Office. You need to provide your name, address, date of birth and Personal Public Service number (PPS number). You may also need to show proof that you are ordinarily resident in Ireland. If your EHIC has expired you can renew it online at ehic.ie. If your details have changed (for example, your address) you need to contact your Local Health Office to renew the card.
If you have concerns about getting a new or renewed card in time, you can get a Temporary Replacement Certificate, either online or from your Local Health Office. You may also wish to consider taking out private travel insurance for expenses that are not covered by the EHIC (such as the costs of repatriation).
Know Your Rights
D: New General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
I have heard that new data protection rules are coming in. What are these rules and how will they affect me?
A new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force across the EU on 25 May 2018.
The GDPR strengthens your rights and gives you much more control over your personal data. It also introduces stricter measures for businesses and other organisations that collect, control and process your personal data.
Under the GDPR, personal data is data that relates to you or can identify you, either by itself or together with other available information. Examples of personal data include your name, phone number, bank details and medical history.
Under the GDPR you are entitled to:
- Access the contact details of the organisation collecting your data
- See a copy of the data held about you
- Have it amended or erased if it is incorrect
- Move or transfer your data
- Object to the use of your data
- Information about how your data is being protected
The GDPR also imposes more obligations on organisations that control and process your data. These organisations must design data collection systems that meet specified requirements, collect only the data that is absolutely necessary for their purposes, keep records of the processing activities under their responsibility, keep data secure and report any data breaches.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Co Wicklow Citizens Information Service which provides a free and confidential service to the public. See www.citizensinformation.ie for details of your local centre or phone our main office in Bray on 0761 07 6780
Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, 0761 07 4000.