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Getting help from the Community Welfare Officer

Gerard Scully | Senior Information Officer | Age Action
Written by: Gerry Scully
Senior Information Officer
03/04/2018

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The helpline had a lot of queries around the time of Storm Emma about the schemes available to help people in emergency situations and the role of the Community Welfare Officer, writes Gerry Scully.

Blog on community welfare officer

Question

Dear Age Action,

During Storm Emma I heard about the Community Welfare Officer and the payments that might be available to older people who were affected by the recent bad weather. Can you explain how these payments work?

Niall from Sligo

Answer

The two payments mentioned during Storm Emma are the Urgent Needs Payment and the Exceptional Needs Payment.

These are both administered by an official called the Community Welfare Officer, which some of our older readers might remember used to be called the Relieving Officer. They are based in local health centres or clinics.

It is their job to provide funding for people on limited means who suddenly need to cope with an unforeseen emergency.

Urgent Needs Payment

The Urgent Needs Payment is for people who are affected by emergencies, such as fires, flooding or other severe weather events. It covers items such as food, clothing or alternative temporary accommodation.

It is means tested and they will look at your entire means, including income, savings and property excluding your family home.

You will need the PPSN for everyone in your household and it is important to know that this payment may be recoverable if your situation improves.

Exceptional Needs Payment

This is a once-off payment for dealing with an unforeseen life event such as setting up your home for the first time, the cost of visiting family in hospital or in prison or, in exceptional circumstances, for helping with funeral costs.

You may also be entitled to get the payment if you find yourself hit with an unexpectedly high energy bill and this might be something to bear in mind in the aftermath of Storm Emma.

Again, this is a means tested payment and you will have to supply a PPSN for everyone in the household.

The decisions of a CWO cannot be appealed but they can be reviewed by the by the Social Welfare Allowance Review Officer for the office which made the original decision.

For more information, or for assistance in making an application for either of these payments, you can ring our Information Service on 01 475 6989 or email us at helpline@ageaction.ie.

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Top tips for staying cool

  • Keep out of the heat. Stay inside during the hottest time of the day – late morning to mid-afternoon. If you do go out, wear a hat and keep to the shade as much as possible. It’s very important to use sun screen of at least factor 15.
  • If you are travelling by car or public transport always take a bottle of water.
  • Avoid strenuous activity and limit activities like housework and gardening to the early morning or evening when it’s cooler.
  • When inside, try to stay in the coolest parts of your home. Keep curtains and blinds closed in rooms that catch the sun. Remember that lights generate heat. Keep windows shut while it’s cooler inside than out and open them when it gets hotter inside. If it’s safe, you could leave a window open at night when it’s cooler. Fans can help sweat evaporate but do not cool the air itself.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-coloured cotton clothing.
  • Take cool baths or showers.
  • Splash your face with cold water or place a damp cloth or scarf on the back of your neck to help you cool off.
  • Drink lots of fluid – even if you’re not thirsty. Limit drinks with caffeine (like coffee and cola) and avoid alcohol as it can increase dehydration.
  • Eat normally but try to have more cold foods, particularly salads and fruit as they contain a lot of water.

Dehydration and overheating

Extreme heat and humidity can cause you to dehydrate and your body to overheat. Watch out for certain signs: particularly for muscle cramps in your arms, legs or stomach, mild confusion, weakness or sleep problems. If you have any of these, rest in a cool place and drink plenty of fluids. Seek medical advice if your symptoms persist or worsen.

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke

The symptoms of heat exhaustion include headaches, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, pale skin, heavy sweating and a high temperature.

If you have any of these symptoms you must:

  • find a cool place and loosen tight clothes
  • drink plenty of water or fruit juice
  • sponge yourself with cold water or have a cool shower.

If you’re having difficulty, or your symptoms persist for several hours, seek medical advice. Heatstroke can develop if heat exhaustion is left untreated - but it can also develop suddenly and without warning. The symptoms of heatstroke include hot and red skin, headaches, nausea, intense thirst, raised temperature, confusion, aggression and loss of consciousness. Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition.

So if you or someone else shows symptoms:

  • call 999 immediately or 112 if you are in the European Union (you can call 112 from a mobile for free). If you have a community or personal alarm press the button on your pendant to call for help.
  • while waiting for the ambulance, follow the advice given above for heat exhaustion but do not try to give fluids to anyone who is unconscious.

Further information

If you live alone consider asking a relative or friend to visit or phone to check that you are not having difficulties during periods of extreme heat.

  • If you know a neighbour who lives alone, check they are ok.
  •  Check for weather forecasts and temperature warnings on TV and radio, and online at  https://www.met.ie/warnings
  • If you have breathing problems or a heart condition your symptoms might get worse when it’s very hot.
  • For further advice about heat-related illness contact your GP.

Summer Raffle Winners

Congratulations to the winners of our Summer Raffle. We're so grateful to everyone who participated and who raised more than 18,000 euro to support older people in Ireland.

This year's winners were:

1st Prize winner €1,500

S Deegan, Dublin

2nd Prize winner €1,000

A Parks, Dublin

3rd Prize winner €500

M Dangerfield, Dublin

And the winner of our Sellers Prize was:

Sellers Prize €100

M Kane, Galway, €100

Thank you to all who supported the raffle, this is one of our biggest and most reliable fundraisers, so your support makes all the difference.

 


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Getting help from the Community Welfare Officer | Age Action

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