The Patient Support Officer, Lorraine Costello, is based at IKA headquarters, Donor House. The Officer focuses on social gain and welfare issues. The diagnosis of kidney failure brings about significant lifestyle changes on the individual, which impacts on employment and re-training needs. Working closely with the Chief Executive and the counselling service, the Officer oversees the interviewing and assessment of patient needs. In cooperation with statutory agencies, she develops individual and family care plans and liaises with employers, hospital staff, training authorities and educational institutions, in order to maintain or initiate the process of the patient regaining or maintaining independence.
The IKA subvents additional aid to the standard welfare entitlements. Welfare entitlements do not take account of the life-long aspect of the illness, involving long periods of dependency on welfare and reduced levels of employment and extra costs directly associated with the patient’s particular treatment. These costs can include basic needs of travel to and from dialysis centres, visits to medical practitioners, adhering to a prescribed diet level, drugs, medication costs and education grants. The current system of cost recovery, by medical card and tax credits re medical expenses barely addresses the level of costs but, at the least, it admits the recognition of the need which exists but remains an unmet need.