What is the Comfort Fund?
The Marie Keating Foundation provides financial assistance to people who are currently receiving treatment for any kind of cancer and who find themselves in financial difficulty as a result.
Being diagnosed with cancer can lead to increased medical costs such as consultant fees and medications, additional expenses from hospital travel and parking and increased utility bills due to extra time at home while recovering. This can all happen while a person has reduced earnings or not earning at all because they are too unwell to work and family members may have to take time off to help them recover.
Many people find themselves overwhelmed by these costs and this adds to the stress of their cancer diagnosis. The Marie Keating Foundation hopes to lessen that burden. This fund has been operating successfully since 2004. In 2019, the Marie Keating Foundation’s Comfort Fund helped over 660 families through their cancer journey.
Each year, the Marie Keating Foundation allocates a specific budget for people who are undergoing cancer treatment but who are financially struggling. The fund accepts applications on behalf of men, women and children, but as this budget is limited, we wish to ensure that Comfort Fund grants are given out to those patients who are most in need.
How does it work?
The Marie Keating Foundation works in partnership with health care professionals, mainly Medical Social Workers (MSWs) and Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs). Applications are submitted on behalf of and with the consent of patients who feel that they are in exceptional need of financial assistance. All applications to the Comfort Fund must be submitted by a health care professional. The Marie Keating Foundation does not accept applications directly from patients.
Each application is assessed on its own merit and any assistance given is managed in a confidential and empathetic manner. Applications are processed over a period of 30 days (unless urgent or otherwise agreed directly with the Health Care Professional) by our Senior Oncology Nurse. In some cases, it may be necessary to ask for more information. When all the required information is received and if the application is approved, a cheque will be forwarded to the health care professional who submitted the application, who in turn will forward it to the patient or their guardian as appropriate. Any questions about the comfort fund or your comfort fund applications should be made to your Medical Social Workers and Clinical Nurse Specialists, rather than the Foundation.
Examples of what expenses the Comfort Fund grants can assist with
• Medical costs
• Household bills
• Transport costs
• Childcare expenses
Advice for Health Care Practitioners:
To ensure that the Marie Keating Foundation can effectively process the comfort fund application on behalf of your patient in a timely manner, we require your assistance in ensuring that all sections of the application form are completed in full. Unfortunately, we are no longer in a position to return calls and emails to gather this essential information. All application forms must be completed by the health care practitioner completing the form, i.e., Medical Social Worker, Cancer Nurse Specialist or other Health Care Professional caring for the patient. The form must also be signed by the patient or a family member on their behalf. If a family member signs the form, their relationship to the patient must be outlined on the form next to their signature.
All applications submitted to the Marie Keating Foundation in respect of the Comfort Fund service must comply with the following:
- Demonstrate that the patient is in financial distress as a result of a cancer diagnosis and is undergoing treatment at the time that the application is submitted;
- The patient must be able to demonstrate that they are experiencing immediate financial needs associated with their cancer diagnosis and treatment. These needs must be outlined on the form and where possible evidence of outstanding bills should accompany the form. Examples of what Comfort Fund grants can assist with include but not limited to the following:
- Medical costs
- Household bills
- Transport costs
- Childcare expense
- Applications for travel/transport costs will be considered. However, applications for costs from patients who meet the criteria for any other scheme operated by statutory or voluntary agencies e.g. Travel 2 Care will be refused.
- If a patient is in full time employment and in receipt of full income or other benefits, that patient cannot be considered for financial support. This will also apply if the patient’s spouse/ partner is in full time employment. This is to ensure that those without regular income are prioritised for assistance. (The only exceptions to this are if the patient’s illness has a direct effect on the family income because the spouse/partner has had to reduce their working hours or become the carer)
The Comfort Fund only provides “once off” assistance. Only one application per patient will be considered by the Marie Keating Foundation. In addition to the application form, you are required to provide a covering letter detailing the patient’s needs. Please also ensure that you are using the most up-to-date version of the comfort fund application form. This most up-to-date version can be found for download here
Each application will be processed over a period of 30 days (unless urgent or otherwise agreed directly with the Health Care Professional). Any questions from your patients in respect of the application should be made directly to you and not the Marie Keating Foundation.
If an application form does not comply with the above criteria, is incomplete or missing any requested information, we will be unable to process your application and it will be returned to you by post with covering letter attached for completion.
Advice people with a cancer diagnosis who wish to avail of the comfort fund service:
There are certain criteria that need to be met before an application to the comfort fund service can be made on your behalf.
Your financial distress should be as a result of your cancer diagnosis and treatment period. You must be able to demonstrate that you are in immediate financial need. These specific needs must be identified, e.g. outstanding utility bill, childcare bill, travel expenses etc.
Applications must be made by the health care professional involved directly in your care. If you do not know who this is, ask in the hospital in which you are receiving treatment. The Marie Keating Foundation cannot accept applications directly from patients or their family members. Unfortunately, all applications submitted directly to the Marie Keating Foundation by patients will be returned by post with a covering letter attached. This will slow down the processing of your comfort fund hence, it is advisable to liaise with your health care practitioner in advance and get them to complete and submit the form for you. Your health care practitioner may be your Medical social worker, Specialist cancer nurse or other health care professional caring your you while you are receiving treatment for your cancer diagnosis.
If you are in full-time employment you cannot be considered for financial support. This will also apply if your spouse/ partner is in full-time employment. This is to ensure that those without regular income are prioritised for assistance. Each application will be considered on a case by case basis.
Assistance will only be made available to meet the needs of the individual with a cancer diagnosis and who is receiving treatment for their diagnosis. The only exceptions to this will be in the case of children, or if the patient’s illness has a direct effect on the family income because the spouse/partner has had to reduce their working hours or become their carer. Unfortunately, we cannot provide assistance to family members due to the limited nature of our resources.
The Comfort Fund provides a “once off” assistance. Only one application per patient will be considered as the budget allocated to the comfort fund is limited.
Each application will be assessed on its own merit and any assistance given will be managed in a confidential and empathetic manner.
If you are a healthcare professional or a social worker and would like more details on the Comfort Fund, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01 628 3726. You can download the Comfort Fund Application here.