There are a number of different schemes and services available for Carers and the people that they care for through the HSE.

Top Tips for effective communication with Health Care Professionals

  • Knowing who the health professional is, write down information such as names, organizations, titles and roles
  • Take someone with you to appointments
  • Make a list of questions
  • Keep a diary of the persons problems or symptoms
  • Ask for information to be written down, particularly about diagnosis or medications
  • Ask your doctor for any printed material on support available or additional information on the cared for persons condition.

Public Health Nurses
Public Health Nurses provide free nursing care to Medical Card holders although the service is not exclusive to Medical Card holders. Public Heath Nursing services are also free to all people aged over 65 and to those with a long term illness.

Public Health Nurses can provide the following services:

  • Home help for practical assistance with homemaking duties
  • Home care, including help with dressing, feeding and other personal care
  • Liaison service – for further care which may be needed at home after hospital
  • Home visits, including practical advice on care techniques
  • Referral for Carer training – lifting, handling and strategies for coping
  • Advice and assistance on continence management
  • Referral to day care, respite, meals on wheels and other local services
  • Advice on women’s health issues – breast care and cervical smear testing
  • Information on local Carer support groups including West Cork Carers Support Group
  • Respite care, usually for a week or two, at local residential care

Home Help
The home help service, which is recognised both in Ireland and internationally as a vital component of community care, has received significantly increased funding over the last number of years. Currently, over 55,000 people living in the community benefit from a home help service on a weekly basis. Carers can find out more about this service from their local public health nurse or local health office, – to apply for home help you need to go through your public health nurse.

Other HSE supports include

  • Physiotherapy services
  • Occupational therapy
  • Chiropody
  • Speech and language therapy
  • Social workers
  • Psychological services

Home Care Packages 
A home care package is an individualized package of community based services and supports provided to enable people, assessed as needing such supports, to return home from an acute hospital or to prevent admission to an acute hospital or long term residential care. Home Care Packages comprise services and supports such as community health nursing, therapy services, home help services and access to both day and respite care. Home care packages are of their nature flexible and are tailored to the individual and changing needs of the recipient, taking account of his or her particular circumstances and the presence or otherwise of a Carer. For further information on Home Care Packages contact your local health office or public health nurse.

Medication – advice and pointers for dealing with medication
There are two types of medication, those that require a prescription that you take to your chemist, and those that do not which can be bought over the counter.
Questions you or the person being cared for may want to ask their doctor or chemist about their medication:

  • What is the name of the medication and what is it for?
  • Are there any possible side effects?
  • What should I do if there are any side effects?
  • How long will I need to take this medication for?
  • Will this medication affect any of my other medical problems?
  • What should I do if I forget to take my medication?
  • Will this medicine interfere with any others that I take?
  • Is there anything I should avoid while taking this medication – such as alcohol, cigarettes, driving?
  • Check that you are taking the lowest possible effective dose of medication.

If the person being cared for is taking more than one type of medication, it can become confusing knowing when to take each one.  The local pharmacist will be able to help you with this by dividing up the week’s medication so it is easier to monitor the dosage. You can also buy a daily tablet box to remind you of what needs to be taken and when.

Hospital Charges
Everyone living in Ireland and certain visitors to Ireland are entitled to a range of health services either free of charge or at reduced cost.  If you need to attend a public hospital or stay overnight in hospital as a public patient, you may be liable for Hospital Charges. Medical card holders and certain other groups do not have to pay hospital charges.
There are three possible types of hospital charges, which include:

  • Out-patient/accident and emergency/casualty services in public hospital charges
  • Daily in-patient/day service charges
  • Long-term stay charges

All citizens are entitled to in-patient and out-patient services in a public hospital, regardless of their means.

Medical Cards
If you have a medical card issued by the Health Service Executive (HSE) you can receive certain health services free of charge. Normally, your dependent spouse or partner and your children are also covered for the same range of health services.
To qualify for a medical card, your weekly income must be below a certain figure for your family size. Cash income, savings, investments and property (except for your own home) are taken into account in the means test.
If your income is above the limit you may still be able to obtain a medical card if your circumstances would result in hardship without one.

If you have a medical card, you are entitled to:

  • Free GP (family doctor) services
  • Prescribed drugs and medicines – some prescription charges apply
  • In-patient public hospital services, out-patient services and medical appliances
  • Dental, optical and aural services
  • Maternity and infant care services
  • Some personal and social care services, for example, public health nursing, social work services and other community care services
  • A maternity cash grant of €10.16 on the birth of each child

You can apply on-line for a medical card on www.medicalcard.ie. This is the quickest method of
obtaining the card. The completed form will be returned to you. Alternatively you can complete the application form which is available from your local Health Centre or Citizens Information Centre and return it to: Client Registration Unit, PO Box 11745, Finglas, Dublin 11.

Click here for more information on Medical Cards.

Drug Payment Scheme
Under the Drug Payment Scheme an individual or family pays the first €144 per month of the cost of prescribed medicines. To apply, you will need to fill out a registration form which is available from your chemist or from your Local Health Office.
Click here for more information on the Drugs Payment Scheme.

Long Term Illness Card 
People suffering from certain conditions can get free drugs, medicines and medical and surgical appliances for the treatment of that condition.  These are provided under the Long Term Illness Scheme. The Long Term Illness Scheme does not depend on your income or other circumstances and is separate from the Medical Card scheme and the GP Visit Card Scheme.
If you qualify, you will get a long-term illness book. This book lists the drugs and medicines for the treatment of your condition, which will be provided to you free of charge through your pharmacist. No prescription charges apply.  Other drugs and medicines not related to the specified condition must be paid for in the normal way.  If your doctor or occupational therapist prescribes a medical or surgical appliance, it will be supplied to you from your Local Health Office.
Click here for more information on Long Term Illness Scheme.

Nursing Home Support Scheme
The Nursing Homes Support Scheme, also known as the ‘Fair Deal’, provides financial support to people who need long-term nursing home care. The scheme is operated by the HSE.
Under this scheme, you make a contribution towards the cost of your care and the State pays the balance. The scheme covers approved private nursing homes, voluntary nursing homes and public nursing homes. You can get the list of approved nursing homes from the HSE. Anyone who is ordinarily resident in the State and is assessed as needing long-term nursing home care can apply for the scheme.
Click here for more information on Nursing Home Support Scheme: A Fair Deal
Nursing Home Support Scheme Application Form
Information Booklet on the Nursing Homes Support Scheme
Quick Guide on the Nursing Homes Support Scheme

Seniors Alert
The Seniors Alert Scheme provides grant support for the supply of equipment to enable older people without sufficient means to continue to live securely in their homes. The scheme, which is run by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, replaced the Scheme of Community Support for Older People in May 2010. The grant assistance is made available through community and voluntary groups registered with the Department.
Click here for more information on Seniors Alert – Citizens Information Leaflet
The HSE has also developed and expanded day centres and respite services. Respite services are recognized as hugely important for carers as it offers an opportunity of a break from the stresses of caring.