Since the new rules regarding the scheme came into force in March there has been a sizeable increase in people seeking treatment for hearing issues & those requiring hearing aids according to Specsavers Hearing Centre Director Orla Walsh. Previously the PRSI Hearing Aid Grant only covered 50% of the cost of hearing aids up to €1,000 but changes to the Treatment Benefit Scheme earlier this year mean that people can now purchase hearing aids from approved suppliers without putting their own money towards the device. This change means that treating hearing loss has become much more accessible – especially for those who have been on long public waiting lists for hearing issues in the past.
Audiologist Orla said: “Up to now people have had to rely on adding money to the grant to address their hearing loss but these changes mean that people can come in and have hearing aids, up to the value of €1,000, fitted by the team without paying anything extra. Of course, many customers do want to add to the cost and get something more expensive and that is no problem at all – for us it is all about getting what is best for the customer.”
Over the last six months, since the changes, local Specsavers Hearcare teams based in Liffey Valley & Dun Laoghaire Shopping Centres have fitted 300 customers with free hearing aids – a fantastic feeling for the whole team according to Orla. Orla said: “In terms of social isolation, a lot of older people have been cocooning during the pandemic and hearing loss can be another barrier for them, especially with society re-opening this month. People who have been on long waiting lists to get hearing aids can now come straight in to see us and then they have a choice about which pair they want – it is a lovely feeling to be able to help customers in that way. A lot of the customers we have seen in recent months had been waiting over 2 years on public waiting lists and one person was over 3.5 years waiting to get hearing aids. Now, as long as they have the required PRSI contributions, they can be treated by us in less than seven days.”
As part of the Treatment Benefit Scheme the Department of Social Protection pays a maximum of €500 towards each hearing aid every four years to those who have the required number of PRSI contributions. To find out more about the scheme, or to check if you or your spouse/partner qualify for the scheme, you can contact the Hearcare team in Specsavers Liffey Valley, Clondalkin, Maynooth or Dun Laoghaire with your PPS number. Talking to the team before your appointment can help them to pre-qualify you for the service and offer further advice about your options. Hearcare also offers FREE hearing tests at each of these locations.