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PATIENT SUPPORT OFFICER: Lorraine Costello

Lorraine Costello, Patient Support Officer, is the Irish Kidney Association’s longest serving staff member and is based at the IKA’s Headquarters, Donor House. The Officer focuses on social gain and welfare issues. The diagnosis of kidney failure brings about significant lifestyle changes for the individual. This, in turn, impacts on employment and re-training requirements. The Officer works closely with the Chief Executive and the Co-ordinator of Counselling Services. Interviewing and assessment of patients’ needs is overseen by the Officer. In cooperation with statutory agencies, the Officer develops individual and family care plans. In order to maintain or initiate the process of the patient regaining or maintaining independence, she liaises with employers, medics, social workers, nursing staff, community welfare officers, training authorities and educational institutions. All enquiries for financial patient aid, received from both the IKA’s membership, countrywide Medics, Social Workers and Nursing Personnel are dealt, directly by her, in strict confidence.

The Officer encourages patients to explore their interests and challenge their horizons by availing of the IKA’s Educational Grant which can be used for a variety of training courses, hobbies or membership of clubs.

Where there is a need, the Officer composes supporting documentation to accompany housing applications or, when necessary, re-housing applications where it is required to adjust the patients’ living accommodation due to an adjustment of their medical treatment. In such applications, the Officer endeavours to convey the human side of renal failure, together with the courage required by patients to overcome the daily battles that accompany their illness.

The IKA subvents additional aid to the standard welfare entitlements. Such entitlements do not take account of the life-long aspect of the illness, involving long periods of dependency on welfare, reduced levels of employment and extra costs directly associated with the patient’s particular treatment. Such costs may include visits to medical practitioners, adherence to a prescribed diet level, drugs, medication, utility bills etc. The current system of cost recovery, by medical card and tax credits re medical expenses unfortunately barely addresses the level of costs but, at the least, it admits the recognition of the need which exists but which continues to remain an unmet need.

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