A Year Today!

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Can you believe it is a year today since I took my first trip over to London to meet with Prof. Rodney Grahame at the Hospital of St. John and St. Elizabeth?

While I was there, I had some tests and I received a confirmed diagnosis of EDS (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome) Hypermobility type with Gastro issues. You can read the full blog post I did about that experience Here.

The diagnosis and treatment plan I got there proved invaluable to me here in Ireland to help my Doctors treat me and even still, I am still waiting for my Harolds Cross appointment to help me get back walking!

I was due to go back over to London for further tests and much needed treatment but I have been too unwell and practically housbound when I am not in hospital over the past year to plan anything. I have been admitted to hospital 5 times since my visit over and I also have been diagnosed with Gastroparesis in that time.

However, things are getting worse especially in the Gastroparesis area of things and I still need to get back for the treatment as soon as I am well enough to travel and make plans.

The Medical fund is always open if anyone would still like to contribute or even just to share the link, I would greatly appreciate it, because without it, it would be impossible for me to pursue the correct course of treatment as there are no EDS specialists anywhere in Ireland and traveling abroad is not fully supported at all under the HSE travel abroad scheme.

I would just like to take this opportunity to say Thank you to everyone who has helped so far, to my family and friends and especially my amazing husband Keith. You have all been so supportive and helpful and I couldn’t have done it without you 🙂

Thank you,
Fainting Goat (Lette)

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The Sphincter of Oddi and Other Stories!

Say that in the voice of the narrator from He-Man and you have a pretty formidable title there!

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The last time I was admitted to hospital at the end of March, early April the surgical team came to the conclusion that I could possibly have something called Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction (SOD) that was being masked by what they thought was Gallbladder pain.

In the last blog post I outlined what this was and that there is a test to check for it called an ERCP, endoscopic retrograde cholangio-pancreatography, a procedure that uses an endoscope and looks directly deep inside the duct system while taking pictures and measuring pressure. You have to be sedated or under general anesthetic as it is way deeper into your system that they have to look than a regular esophageal, stomach endoscope or similar.

While they do this, they inject some Botox into the tiny sphincter itself which relaxes it and allows it to open again. If after about 2 weeks your pain is gone, this is a sign you have the dysfunction. Sometimes if the pressure in the bile ducts is measured as too high or if the surgeon deems it necessary at the time they will cut the sphincter muscle first time.

Cutting the sphincter of Oddi muscle surgically during an ERCP is called a sphincterotomy. It’s generally effective and relieves symptoms of SOD about 70% of the time.

The long term cure for it? a series of ERCP’s where again I will be put to sleep and they have to cut the sphincter to weaken it to the point where it can’t clamp up any more. This should take a few turns because if they do it all at once and cut straight through it, there is serious risk of heavy bleeding and Pancreatitis with this so they do it in small stages over time to make it safer.

A video of the procedure can be seen here, if you have the stomach for it! 😉

Since coming out of hospital in early April, I have had a number of follow up appointments. I’v been seen by a gastroenterologist in Nenagh General Hospital. He reviewed my case and changed my pain meds saying that the morphine I was on was a spasmodic drug and wasn’t helping the pain in my side so told me to ween off them and start other anti-spasmodic drugs which he prescribed. He also gave me new antiemetic meds for my stomach and gut as I am constantly having trouble with it. He said getting back over to London to a GI specialist over there when I am well enough is greatly advised, but to wait until I am well enough.
He also prescribed me with a spray for under your tongue, usually used for people with angina but said as it’s job is to open the blood vessels and relax muscles that it may help the pain in my side, and it really does, although drops my blood pressure and gives me a cracking headache but I would rather have that than the pain in my side!

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I have been to the Pain specialist in Croom hospital for more injections into my Sacroiliac joint and hips which usually takes about 3 days to a week to kick in, but of course I got cocky and tried to hobble out of the bathroom the day after getting them, without any chair, crutches or support, thinking I could do it and SMACK! I slapped off the ground hurting my hip, but thankfully not seriously so it has healed again and the injections have slowly begun to work to ease the pain in my lower back and hips. Unfortunately though they only ever last about a month so I am coming to the end of that relief already.

11205026_10203754927464867_7609355477687548601_nI was back into the University Hospital Limerick for a follow up from when I was admitted last and to see when my ERCP will be. I was told I should be called sometime this month so I am currently still waiting on the appointment and hopefully I will be called soon as it is getting very sore and uncomfortable.

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and finally… My powered wheelchair finally arrived! I had to chase it up through the local OT manager because I was getting nowhere emailling my OT about it. The manager got things moving immediately once she knew I had been waiting nearly 2 years and the replies to my emails were just one excuse after another, it finally arrived a couple of weeks ago, Miles too big for me, refurbished and not new but mine, great fun and gives me great freedom! The powered chair deserves a blog post of it’s own so I will do that as the next post. It’s name is Marvin and I’ll explain where that came from too! 🙂

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For now, that’s all my current news! 🙂

Vanos Excel G3 Light Wheelchair Review

Here is the latest video update over on the Irish Dysautonomia Awareness Youtube Channel, I hope you enjoy 🙂

 

Got To London & Met Prof. Rodney Grahame

We were off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of… The Hospital of St. Johns and St. Elizabeth, in St. Johns Wood in London, Professor Rodney Grahame. Specialist Rheumatologist.

On a rainy Monday morning, August 25th, we rose early to catch our flight into Heathrow from Shannon, leaving Ireland at roughly 08:45am and Landing in England at about 10am.

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I had never been to England before so I was looking forward to the trip. After Landing, we caught the express train into the city where we could drop our things into the hotel, grab some food and gently meander around the locality. Though that didn’t last long, I was wrecked!

Considering I got no sleep the night before and had to be up at 5am to check into the airport I had to come back to the hotel for a while and take a nap before we were to meet with some friends for dinner that evening, the day had already caught up with me but the nap did me well and I went out and about where our friends showed us around some of the city (In the milling rain!) and took us out to dinner.

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It was the following day we were to meet the wizard and after a long and busy first day, we slept hard that night!

So, Up on the Tuesday, we strolled down to St. Pancras and Kings Cross Station where we grabbed a bite to eat and went for a walk afterwards to kill some time before the appointment. The time came and we took a Taxi to the hospital.

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Accessibility in London sucks… like really badly sucks, the Taxis and most busses are equipped to take individuals in wheelchairs but the city itself, the pavements are damaged and rough, few ramps, dangerous roads, unreliable traffic lights and most shops, cafes and places in general were stepped without lifts or alternatives for wheelies. The majority of the underground Tube stations were not accessible and Also, I hate to say it, but most people on the streets don’t care if you are in a chair or not, they will walk straight through you, in most cases. For such a big city it (Accessibility wise) was a bit of a disappointment.

IMG_1756I wasn’t sure of what to expect when I got to the hospital, but I wasn’t expecting what greeted us. A modern, beautiful building, all level access for chairs, open and bright and it even had a concierge beside reception, A CONCIERGE!! Seriously, inside the door ready to help! 😀 I was highly amused by that!!

ANYWAY!! Up to the 2nd floor we went where I checked in and was told wait in the waiting room. Before ten minutes passed, a door opened at the far end of the waiting room, and there stood a tiny, slightly frail looking man wearing a classy suit and a smile, It was the wizard, He called me in!

Prof. Rodney Graham welcomed Keith and I into his office where he did everything to make sure we were comfortable, even asking if the air conditioning was ok!!

I have to say he made an immediate impact as being a gentleman. I was only supposed to be booked in with him for an hour, he saw me for at least 1 hour 45 minutes.

He started by listening to my full medical, family and symptom history, taking notes as I spoke, stopping me briefly as I went to ask questions and clarify some things. He then went on to ask me a list of questions relating to family, symptoms, hospital visits, all my broken bones and injuries, asked about my pots and Gastro intestinal issues, everything! Then a physical exam where he measured my arm length, measured the curvature of my spine, did the Beighton Scale on me (The Beighton score is a simple system to quantify joint laxity and hypermobility) Checked each of my joints separately for hypermobility. Checked the elasticity of my skin, the blue in the whites of my eyes, checked my flat feet, the inside of my mouth for a high pallet and overcrowding, asking about anesthetic resistance which I have had at the dentist many times before. He asked me about cuts, bruises, bleeding, checked my blood pressure, height…

He went out of his way for a full hour and a half to rule out EDS of any type, then sat me down in front of him again, looked at me and said:
“You came here knowing what you had, you do know what you have, don’t you?”

I replied:
“I think so, but I need to hear it from you, Professor!”

He fully confirmed a diagnosis of EDS type 3 Hypermobility type, with gastro issues. Explaining to me in full how this is not a benign condition and that it needs treatment. He said he would write to each of my doctors and to me with a confirmed diagnosis, a full treatment plan and a recommendation for me to be referred to both a gastroenterologist and to  Harolds Cross in Dublin for intensive physiotherapy and rehabilitation to get me back on my feet.

He said we would wait and see how the Irish doctors and the HSE reacts to his letters and if nothing happens fast enough in the next few months he will recommend for me to come back over to his team for me to see Prof. Aziz (Neuro Gastroenterologist) and Prof. Mathias (Autonomic and Neurovascular specialist) for faster, although private treatment.

I also asked about the seizures and if Dysautonomia could cause them. He said he was not a neurologist but that people with EDS and Pots have had Non Epileptic seizures before, but he did not know if the seizures were caused by dysautonomia or something else, but that it has happened. He also agreed that it was most likely the medication that they were giving me to ‘treat’ the seizures, in fact, made it worse, giving that now I have stopped being prescribed these meds, I have had no more seizures.

I was delighted, It was so worth the money to fly over and meet him, even for the confirmed diagnosis itself. I haven’t received the letters as of yet but as soon as I do, I can presume my doctors will have gotten them too… I am very curious as to how they will react to what he has to say. Prof. Grahame is considered one of the worlds best Autonomic specialists, I would hope they listen to what he has to recommend for me and that treatment can finally get a proper run for its money! I would really love a chance at Harolds Cross for Rehabilitation. Anything to help me back on my feet again 🙂

IMG_1758We had one more day in London before flying home, we booked an extra day not knowing if Prof. Grahame would send me for some diagnostic tests or not but we had the day to ourselves.

A dear Irish friend of ours, now living in Stoke On Trent came down to London to meet up, it was the first time seeing her since Christmas and it was brilliant to catch up. We decided to go to the Natural History Museum to see the Dinosaurs and because it is free in! It was amazing! After a short wait in the queue to get in, the museum itself was fantastic. Not entirely accessible though, just be aware if you go there, not all areas can be accessed by wheelchairs but overall it is still definitely worth going to see and ended up being one of the highlights of the trip overall 🙂 Unfortunately we arrived on one of the last days that kids were off school, so the place was packed and the queue for the dinosaur area stretched the entire way across the museum, it would have taken well over an hour to get in and we decided not to wait, either way there was plenty for us to see, check out the photos I snapped on the phone! 🙂

IMG_1804After being about three hours at the National History Museum, we decided to head to Covent Garden where I picked up some pressies for the family and we caught a bite to eat, walked around for a bit and took in the sights and sounds before getting our friend back to Euston Station for her train back to Stoke on Trent, we said our goodbyes and Keith and I headed back to the hotel room, started to pack and prepare for the flight home the next day, then fell into bed.

The following morning we grabbed some breakfast and headed out to Heathrow, before long we were back on the plane home and it was all over. If I am to head back over which may very well be a possibility very soon, I will only stay for 1 or 2 nights as opposed to 3. London is expensive and you easily notice the extra day on your pocket just with eating and getting taxis alone But we didn’t know what to expect from our first trip and it was well worth going over to meet the man. I couldn’t have done it without the Medical Fund, and hopefully now treatment will get underway properly without any more doubts from the HSE.

My next appointment is on the 15th so I am interested to see how that goes and of course ill fill you in, so that is all for now, will leave you with some other shots from walking around London! Toodle pips! 🙂 🙂 🙂

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Lette’s Medical Treatment Fund

Hey all, I have decided to bite the bullet and go for treatment abroad in London, there is just no way I am getting all the care I need here in Ireland. If you can spare anything, even just a few minutes to share this link, I would greatly appreciate it, Please click on the image below to donate or find out more. Thank you ❤

At the age of 28, Lette was diagnosed with POTS and NCS (with Respiratory Arrest). In the past 3 years she was also diagnosed with EDS, and a Seizure Disorder.

In 2013 Lette’s hips failed. She now uses a wheelchair. In May 2014 after a syncope and respiratory arrest, where she needed rescue-breathing for 17 minutes, she started to experience recurring seizures. The health system’s slow pace means Lette must wait months to begin investigations to rule out a brain adenoma.

We decided to ask for your help because, over the past 3 years Lette’s health has deteriorated. These conditions are very rare, and treatment is complicated by a lack of understanding by healthcare professionals. Specialist treatment is simply unavailable in Ireland.

Your assistance will allow Lette to travel for initial, and follow-up sessions with 3 specialist consultants in London. It will provide for diagnostic and clinical examinations, treatments, scans, and associated expenses to discover a course of treatment for her condition, allow her to promptly rule out any high-risk complications, and most importantly to hopefully improve her quality of life.

We deeply appreciate any contribution that you can make, or awareness you can spread, to help Lette get access to the treatment that she needs.

Thank you.

 

 

Dysautonomia Diagnosis Update – 2014

As May is EDS Awareness month and I was asked to do an update on my Diagnosis story to share with you all to try to raise a little awareness of the condition, here I am once again, another year later, 2014 already and lots has indeed happened in the last year that I can add onto the overall diagnosis story.

If you would like to read 2013’s update and the full background of my diagnosis, you may find that here.

So I will give you a brief background to get going, then the updates from the last year or so.

In April 2011, after nearly a month in hospital and numerous medical tests,  a Tilt Table Test confirmed a diagnosed of Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome and Neurocardiogenic Syncope also called Vasovagal Response.

In October 2012 I was diagnosed by a Reumatologist in Cork that I had Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Type 3 Hypermobility Type, which in turn would be the organic cause of the Pots.

My symptoms and signs at the time, and still do consist of Syncope (Fainting) sometimes with no breathing and with seizure like activity, It has happened countless times now, and some of the serious fainting without breathing has caused short term paralysis in my legs and lasting neuropathy. I have Very Low Blood Pressure, Dizziness, Severe Nausea and tummy/gut trouble and vomiting, Excessive fatigue, Costochondritis, Easy Bruising, Blue Sclera, Severe pains in my Joints mainly in the lower limbs, back and right shoulder.

I take 18 tablets a day, 8 different kinds spread out over 3 times a day.

Last year saw a big improvement in my health that I was just feeling well and fit enough at the start of the summer to think about applying for jobs once again, then in April 2013 I had an interview, they called me for a second interview and I landed the job. It was perfect. I worked from home, on a set schedule where I had to sign in online at a certain time and be available to give tech support to customers calling in. All tech was provided, I won’t name the company but needless to say, I adored the job. I worked hard, I was actually doing really well and made lots of friends.

Everything was going amazing until my Pots started acting up, sometimes I had to put people on hold as I hacked into a bucket! The pain in my pelvis, hips and lower limbs became so much that crutches no longer supported me well enough.

In August I was in a wheelchair, In September I was admitted to hospital for 11 days for investigations and pain management. The specialist advised that I didn’t return to work.

I was in a little shock I think, the job was just working out, then out of nowhere…
We had to take time to let it all sink in, it did, we had our ‘Why Me?‘ moment, yes, I just did that! 😀 and then I realised I had to sort everything out, like work, social welfare, adaptations, treatment like Physio & Hydro Therapy, Occupational Therapist, Pain Management, Learning to live needing a wheelchair, for now at least (I live in hope, but I’m not delusional!!) 😉 :p

There was just one morning after I got home from the hospital and had let it sink in where, I just said, screw this, it’s not going to do it’s self! Keith and I got to making lots of phonecalls and got an Occupational Therapist and Physiotherapist on the go, I rang to end work and get all that sorted and only started going about the process of applying for certain social welfare and home needs which to my surprise had been cut substantially from what had been expected. Only in recent weeks have I been told that I will not hear anything back from the Housing Adaptation Grants (if at all) until ‘at least’ 2015!

My Occupational Therapist is amazing, so utterly helpful and always tries to do what she can, My physio is also very helpful but unfortunately I only get to see him roughly once or twice a month. I had started Hydrotherapy, found it very helpful but then had a syncope in the pool and that was the end of that! So for now, I am not getting much in the way of physical progression with my legs, though I do hope to try and get referred to Harolds Cross in Dublin, where they do intensive, in house, Occupational, Physio and Hydro therapy, while you are accommodated at the hospital for careful monitoring, but we will wait and see!

What a lot of people don’t realise is that, there are NO Dysautonomia specialists anywhere  in Ireland, some have a bit of knowledge around Pots but not EDS and NONE have been trained specifically to treat these conditions, so treatment is more of a mix of everything they think you need, a stab in the dark, and then there is no communication between the different doctors that are treating you. The closest specialist Autonomic center and Qualified Specialists in the field of Dysautonomia are in London and the HSE simply doesn’t want to know about sending you over to get the treatment you need. They are also refusing the Travel Abroad Scheme to the majority of people who apply for it. To go over privately is simply not an option for the majority of us as we simply cant afford it.

Since being diagnosed with Pots originally in April 2011 and EDS in October 2012, I still faint, I also have syncopies where I can have seizure like activity and I can stop breathing with all faints, Some of which have left me with paralysis and long term muscle neuropathy. I constantly have pain and often severe gut and tummy trouble with the EDS and it’s complications. I am now in a wheelchair a year come August and I have had many ambulance rides, rushing me into emergency and I still regularly have many hospital stays, visits and appointments.

but you know what? I count myself lucky! Things could always be far worse and I am very lucky and endlessly thankful for certain people in my life, Namely, my husband, I would be truly lost without him ❤

My family and friends deserve saint and knighthoods for their patience with me as I can never commit to anything, but such things are out of everyones control.

For now I keep myself busy and roll with whatever is thrown at me!

Thank you for reading my story 🙂

 

 

 

 

Social Welfare Cuts Ireland – 2014

Since going into the wheelchair, I have been in the process of applying for and filling out endless social welfare forms and other such applications now that my Husband, nor I, can no longer work given my current disability.

I never realised how much there was that needed to be applied for when something like this happens.

However,  what came as the biggest surprise is how the Irish social welfare system has completely stopped some payments to new applicants without any prior warning, explanation or alternatives given to replace these payments to those who need it the most, for example, the Mobility Allowance, The Motorised Transport Grant, Diet allowance and Mortgage Interest Relief have all completely stopped outright to new applicants, with many changes in other payments.

However, Those who are currently receiving these payments will continue to do so until the scheme is updated.

Those who continue to get these payments are getting a substantially higher payment and far more benefits than what is now available to new applicants. This is very unequal and unfair. I will highlight the rates of pay below that I have come across directly myself and I will outline a brief explanation of the changes in each of the aforementioned payments as of 2014 with some links for more information, as follows:

I am aware that I have highlighted only a few of the changes overall. If there are any payments that I have not highlighted or that I have overlooked please let me know and I can add it to the post, Thank you.

As well as the obvious recommended payments for people with disabilities like Disability and Carers Allowance. Which have been so far left alone this year, the following are the payments that have either stopped outright, stopped to new applicants or have changes:

THE MOBILITY ALLOWANCE & THE MOTORISED TRANSPORT GRANT

This monthly payment has now been completely stopped to new applicants with no updated news on a replacement scheme, which was supposed to be put in place last June 2013. People currently getting the payment will continue to do so but it will eventually be faded out in lieu of a replacement scheme.

What also has stopped to new applicants as of the same date as this, is the Motorised Transport Grant for those people who need adaptations to their car in order to keep their job. This was done so under the radar that a lot of people are completely unaware of the stoppage.

What worries me is, that The social welfare/Government will come along and say that the Free Travel Pass, that those on some social welfare payments are entitled to, will cover this Mobility Allowance, when it simply doesn’t. Bus Eireann Busses (that will bring you from rural areas to accessible areas of the city) are NOT Wheelchair accessible at all. So getting anywhere from a rural or remote area means paying for a Taxi or relying on others to transport you, which completely defeats the purpose and that is why the Mobility allowance and the Motorised Transport Grant is valid and needed.

Now in February 2014, there is still no sign or mention of a replacement scheme for those of us who need it most – info as follows:

The Mobility Allowance: As printed on Citizens information.ie on the 14th February 2014:

The Mobility Allowance is a means tested monthly payment payable by the Health Service Executive (HSE). It is paid to people who are aged 16 and over and under age 66, and who have a disability and are unable to walk or use public transport and who would benefit from a change in surroundings; (for example, by financing the occasional taxi journey). If an allowance is awarded, it will be continued beyond the age of 66 but you may not apply for the allowance if you are aged 66 or over.

There is no specific legislation in Ireland providing for Mobility Allowance. Instead, this Allowance was introduced in 1979 by the Department of Health and is payable under Section 61 of the Health Act, 1970.

On 26 February 2013, the Department of Health announced that the Mobility Allowanced scheme was closed to new applicants. An alternative scheme is being devised to replace it.

On 11th June 2013, the Department of Health announced that Mobility Allowance would continue to be paid to those already receiving it until the scheme is replaced.

Rates:

The allowance is paid monthly. The lower rate is payable to those who are availing of the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme. The rates for 2012 are:

High rate Low rate
€208.50 per month €104.25 per month

That is a substantial amount of extra money per month that some people are continuing to get, yet new applicants can no longer apply.

DIETARY SUPPLEMENT:

Another weekly payment that has been completely cut without any explanation as of the 1st of Feb 2014 is the Dietary Supplement.

Our local Social Welfare Employee told us that as the 1st of February fell on a Saturday this year 2014 (the day this payment stopped) She and the other workers only got the email memo sent about it when they arrived into work on Monday the 3rd, She said they got no prior warning or explanation.

Changes in 2014 – As printed on Citizens information.ie on the 14th February 2014:

The diet supplement was discontinued for new applicants from 1 February 2014.

However, people who were getting Diet Supplement before 1 February 2014 can continue to keep the payment (for as long as they continue to be entitled to the payment).

You are entitled to retain the diet supplement for a prescribed diet, if you:

  • Have a specified medical condition
  • Meet the conditions for Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) and
  • Satisfy a means test

To get a diet supplement, a hospital consultant or a hospital registrar must certify:

  • That you or your adult dependant or child dependant has been prescribed a diet because of a specified medical condition
  • The type of diet prescribed
  • How long you will need the prescribed diet.

A gluten free diet for an adult or a child aged 18 to 22 may be prescribed by your family doctor (GP).

In the case of diet supplements, for example, for people with cystic fibrosis, the long-term illness scheme book may be accepted as verification that such a diet has been prescribed. The length of time for which the diet is being prescribed and the type of diet must be stated.

Qualifying diets

The weekly cost of each prescribed diet is set by the Department of Social Protection. The following diets qualify for the diet supplement: (Some people are continuing to get these payments, but new applicants can not apply)

Qualifying prescribed diets Cost of diet, €
Low-lactose, milk-free diet 65.43
Gluten-free diet 68.43
High-protein, high-calorie diet 71.43
Altered consistencies (liquidised) diet 74.93

HOUSING ADAPTATION GRANTS:

They are very difficult to get as funds are being held tight at the moment. I have also been told from a Social Welfare Employee over the phone that they have not been allocated the funds for 2014 as of yet and that I will more than likely not hear anything about this until next year 2015. I had all documents in since the end of 2013!

Changes in 2014 – As printed on Citizens information.ie on the 14th February 2014:

Changes to 3 housing grant schemes were announced in January 2014 and came into effect immediately. The main changes to the Housing Adaptation Grant for People with a Disability are:

  • The maximum income threshold has been reduced to €60,000 (previously €65,000)
  • The percentages of approved costs covered by the grant have been adjusted on a sliding scale (but the maximum grant stays at €30,000, or 95% of approved costs)
  • Extension works will only qualify if no suitable cheaper option is feasible
  • An occupational therapist must confirm that the works are fit for purpose and that they meet the applicant’s needs in the most economic way
  • Income of all household members will now be included in the means test (though Carer’s Allowance should be disregarded)
  • Applicants must prove that they have complied with the Local Property Tax

The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government say it is preparing revised guidelines for the 3 schemes.

MORTGAGE INTEREST SUPPLEMENT

This weekly payment has now been completely stopped from social welfare. If you are now having difficulty with your Mortgage payments you must speak to your bank in organising help with your payments, yet, once again, People who are currently on it or who applied before Jan 1st 2014 will continue to get payments for as long as they are entitled.

Changes in 2014 – As printed on Citizens information.ie on the 14th February 2014:

Mortgage Interest Supplement (MIS) provides short-term support to help you pay your mortgage interest repayments.

From 1 January 2014, the Mortgage Interest Supplement scheme is closed to new entrants and no new applications will be accepted from this date. This measure does not affect current claimants immediately (people who were getting Mortgage Interest Supplement before 1 January 2014). The scheme will be wound down for these claimants over a 4-year period.

If you are experiencing short-term mortgage difficulties your lender must support and engage with you under the Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process (MARP). The website, keepingyourhome.ie, provides comprehensive information on the services and entitlements available if you are having difficulties making your mortgage repayments.

RESPITE CARE GRANT

The Respite Care Grant used to be €1700 and is now €1,375 and is paid once each year, usually on the first Thursday in June, for each person you are caring for. It is not taxable.

Changes in 2014 – As printed on Citizens information.ie on the 14th February 2014:

Information

The Respite Care Grant is an annual payment made to carers by the Department of Social Protection. Carers can use the grant in whatever way they wish. You can use the grant to pay for respite care if you wish, but you do not have to do so. More information about respite care facilities is available.

In June of each year (usually on the first Thursday of the month), the Department of Social Protection pays the grant automatically to carers getting Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit, Domiciliary Care Allowance or Prescribed Relative’s Allowance from the Department. Only one Respite Care Grant can be paid for each person getting care.

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The long and short of this is, The Irish Social Welfare System needs to get the finger out and sort out their payments so that it is fair and considerate to all people on these benefits.

Some people are out of work, not by choice but because they have been forced to by illness or some other uncontrollable outside source. In these situations support from the state is expected and yet, never organised enough or forthcoming at all.

The only thing about this whole thing that bothers me the most is that the people who already are getting some of the payments will continue to do so until a ‘new scheme’ is written up, and there is no sign of that happening nearly a year after they said it would. New applicants need not apply, we don’t even get the chance to anymore.

This has caused a serious situation of inequality for those who find themselves newly disabled. These people are the most vulnerable in their new state, but receive no proper support.

These haven’t been cuts, they are a cost saving exercise at the expense of the newly disabled which is simply not fair.

I would love feedback on how any of this has affected you directly or affected someone you know. As always you can submit a comment here or write to me at irishpotsies@gmail.com, either anonymously or otherwise, I always love to hear from you 🙂