A number of changes were introduced from the start of November, Gerry Scully explains, which will only apply to people approved for the scheme after that date. These are designed to encourage more people to join the scheme which is currently heavily undersubscribed.
The first important change is around the eligibility criteria. You still need to be over 65 but you no longer need to be living alone or only with another older person.
The main requirement is that, regardless of who you live with, you would be by yourself for long stretches of time.
Although the scheme is only open to people on low incomes there is no means test and you are simply required to identify yourself as being of limited means.
The second important change is that the first year’s monitoring is now included in the grant. After that it is estimated the cost of monitoring on a landline will be €65 per year and this will be index linked to ensure the price is controlled.
While the scheme works best with landline telephones digital systems can also be accommodated depending on signal strength. It is recommended that people with digital systems use GSM mobile devices. All new GSM devices will have a roaming sim card in the unit.
You will have to pay for this sim card as well as the cost of topping it up at a cost of around €50 in the first year. This cost will increase in the second year to €115 to include the cost of monitoring.
Pre-existing contracts and monitoring arrangements are not affected by these changes. You can now choose your own monitoring company, but you will not necessarily enjoy the fixed rate of €65.
For more information on the scheme you can ring our Information Service on 01 475 6989 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.