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 because they are too ill 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 2018 alone, the Marie Keating Foundation’s Comfort Fund helped 564 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 Comfort Fund grants can assist with
• Medical costs
• Household bills
• Transport costs
• Childcare expenses
How can I avail of this fund? Advice for people affected by cancer
There are certain criteria that need to be met before an application is considered.
• 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
• 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 centre in which you are receiving treatment and they will refer you. The Marie Keating Foundation cannot accept applications directly from patients or their family members.
• 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 patient’s need. The only exceptions to this are 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 only provides “once off” assistance. Only one application per patient will be considered by the Marie Keating Foundation
• 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 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.