Identifying customers in vulnerable circumstances & Updating PSR
Created on April 6, 2023
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Identifying customers in vulnerable circumstances
Update the PSR (Priority Services Register)and it's services
- What is meant by vulnerability
- How to recognise if a customer is vulnerable and needs to be added to the PSR
- How to ask questions around this in the right way
- Why It's important to do all of these things
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Mention of being off sick/out of work
Don't forget, it may not be obvious at first if you're speaking to acustomer in a vulnerable circumstance. So listen out for the triggers and be sure to acknowledge them in your conversation. (Click on the speech bubbles to see how it could sound)
Mention of a struggle to understand their bills.
There's reference to the customer being elderly
Mention of a struggle to read bills due to poor eyesight
Mention of being a carer for a family member
Mention of PIP for themselves or someone in the property
You can hear children in the background
When you’re having any conversation with a customer - it’s so important to really listen to what they are saying. They may mention things in conversation which are triggers that mean we need to explore more about their circumstances. Below are some examples of what a customer may say in conversation without outright telling you they have an illness. You will then need to explore further to understand so we can capture the right information for the PSR.
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Customer mentions regular doctor/hospital appointments
A customer may not always mention a specific health condition or may not have said something that makes you think they have a condition. Sometimes we may need to ask, for example if a customer is struggling financially, there may be a health condition that they have thats causing this, sometimes, not always, affordability and vulnerability go hand in hand. Talking about illnesses and people's circumstances can be a very sensitive subject. The way we approach the conversation could determine the way the customer reacts and responds to us - so let's take a look at how it could sound.
What about if a customer is not saying any of those things?What if the customer is not really sharing any information which could help us support them with things like the Priority Services Register?
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Explain the reasoning behind why you're having this conversation with a customer.
Mention of PIP for themselves or someone in the property
Be mindful of how you word your questions.
Here's how it could sound:-
If you want to know how to update the PSR - please look at this handy wiki page https://eonnext.knowledgeowl.com/help/updating-and-maintaining-the-psr
Explaining PSR to a customer
Only ask questions that are relevant. We don't need to know about the customers pets name.
"PSR or the Priority Services Register is a way of us capturing your’s and the households information such as health conditions that we need to be aware of and helps us as your energy provider to offer you the right support. We will share this information with the Meter operators, Distribution network so in the event of an emergency or power cut, you will be prioritised and made aware. There are also specific services that are offered by being on the register if you’d like to know more about what these are I can tell you now or ou can take a look at our website. Can you confirm you’re ok with me adding the information you’ve given me today about yourself or member of the household?"
You can find a full breakdown of each PSR condition on our wiki page.
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We understand that not all the options in the PSR are clear in terms of how it relates to the customers situation. When it comes to a medical reliance on electricity or heat, it's important we understand what those are and how to recognise these conditions.We've highlighted those in red, and we've given you an in depth look at some of them to help understand what those actually mean.
Understand the customers situation.
- Oxygen concentrator
- Oxygen use
- Partially sighted
- Pensionable age
- Physical impairment
- Poor sense of smell
- Restricted hand movement
- Stair lift, hoist, electric bed
- Water dependant
- Temp - Families with young children under 5
- Temp - Life changes
- Temp - Post hospital recovery
- Temp - Young adult householder (<18)
- Additional presence preferred
- Automated medication (includes Dialysis, feeding pumps and others)
- Careline/telecare system
- Chronic/Serious Illness
- Cognitive impairment
- Developmental condition
- Hearing impairment
- Heart, lung & ventilator
- Medically dependant on showering/bathing
- Medicine refrigeration
- Mental Health
- Nebuliser and apnoea monitor
A customer would have one of these due to a life limiting serious illness, for example ‘spinal cord injury’, so please make sure you understand what condition the customer has that requires this equipment. For example, just because a customer may a have a heart condition does NOT mean they have a ventilator. ONLY update this in the PSR of you’ve specifically been told this is a machine being used in the house, don’t assume they have one because they mention a condition.If you're not sure, ASK the customer if the conditions they're mentioning require a ventilator in the property. These require a constant supply of electricity and will usually require a backup generator in the home, so do ask your customer if they have one.The image to the right is what a ventilator would look like.
A Stair Lift or Electric Bed
The customer or someone in the household may be elderly or have an illness that means they can’t get up and downstairs easily and so they rely on the stairlift to be able to go up and down the stairs. These would require a constant electicity supply so the customer is able to manouvre up and down stairs at all times.An electric bed will be used for a medical condition for example, someone who is bed bound and the electric bed supports them moving around. Always ask what the medical condition that relies on this equipment. If the customer has a recliner bed for comfort
Sleep Apnoea Monitor
Nebuliser or Apnoea monitor
A nebuliser is an electric machine that sprays a fine, liquid mist of medicine through a mouthpiece or mask. This is not to be confused with an asthma inhaler which DOES NOT have a need for electric. A person might use an Apnoea monitor to track the breathing of an infant or an adult at risk of respiratory failure. Each device also contains a microcomputer that processes the information to determine whether breathing has stopped. If it has, the device sounds an alarm to wake the person or parents or caregivers. In common cases it's used to moniter breathing whilst you sleep.
Only where it is powered by electric not to be confused with an oxygen tank, if they use one of these you would update Oxygen use on PSRAn oxygen concentrator is recommended if you need to have oxygen for most of the day (including when you're asleep).The machine is about the size of a home printer and plugs into an electrical socket. It can help with conditions such as:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Pulmonary fibrosis
- Heart failure
- Severe long-term asthma
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Cystic fibrosis
- Breathing problems caused by a combination of being obese and having an underlying condition
Dialysis, feeding pump & automated medication
A dialysis machine is a form of renal replacement therapy (RRT) where a kidney patient uses a dialysis machine, passing his or her blood through a filter and cleansing it in the process, at homeA feeding pump uses tubes to deliver nutrition to patients who cannot obtain such by swallowing and are powered by electricityAutomated medication - This will be where a customer requires continuous or regular medication that is given via a machine automatically.
A Long Term Physical Health Condition (also known as a Chronic Condition) is a health problem that requires ongoing management over a period of years or decades and is one that cannot currently be cured but can be controlled with the use of medication and/or other therapies.Examples of Long Term Physical Health Conditions include:
- Cardiovascular (e.g. Hypertension, Angina)
- Chronic Respiratory (e.g. Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Chronic Neurological (e.g. Multiple Sclerosis)
- Chronic Pain (e.g. Arthritis)
- Post-COVID-19 syndrome (see Long COVID)
- Other Long Term Conditions (e.g. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Cancer) etc.
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Dementia Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning — thinking, remembering, and reasoning — to such an extent that it interferes with a person's daily life and activities. Some people with dementia cannot control their emotions, and their personalities may change. This can also mean when dealing with these customer they are volatile and easily triggered with certain phrases or tones of voice. Most people with these traits will normally have a carer or someone speaking on their behalf when calling in. Dementia customers also have a tendancy to be aggressive due to confusion or lack of understanding so these conversation take a lot of patience and perseverance from Energy Specialists. These customers also hang up when you answer/before you answer because they get confused at to why they're on the phone or what they're calling in for.
Developmental disabilities are a group of conditions due to an impairment in physical, learning, language, or behaviour areasThese conditions begin during the developmental period, may impact day-to-day functioning, and usually last throughout a person's lifetime. These are customers that will more than likely not manage the account themselves or will be managed under the supervision of carers
What are the types of mental illness?There are many different types of mental illness. Some of the main groups of mental disorders are:
- Mood disorders (such as depression or bipolar disorder)
- Anxiety disorders
- Personality disorders
- Psychotic disorders (such as schizophrenia)
- Eating disorders
- Trauma-related disorders (such as post-traumatic stress disorder)
- Substance abuse disorders
What is mental health? Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices.
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Click the arrow to see more services
Support for power loss / power interruption: Under vital interest we can share information with network companies to support if there is a sudden loss of gas or electricity supply. An alternative contact, such as a friend, carer or relative, will be contacted to alert customers about the power loss where requested
Knock and Wait: gives more time to answer the door if we visit
Free prepayment meter move: if nobody in the household can safely access the meter (eligibility criteria applies)
Regular meter reads: a free meter read service if nobody the household can read the meter
Interpreter service: can be arranged when for calls where English isn’t a preferred or first language (More info on this here)
Third Party Correspondence: Copies of bills and correspondence can be sent to a friend, carer or relative
Nominate someone to act for you: Someone else can deal with all aspects of an account
Password scheme: When we call or visit, we can use a password of verify our identity
Alternative format communications: receive bills and correspondence in Braille, large print or audio CD.
The Priority Services Register is a register of customers who’ve been identified as being in a vulnerable circumstance, held by all suppliers & networks. This enables us as a supplier to tailor our services to our customers needs, giving them the best customer service possible.When a customer goes on to the register, that info is shared with:The MOP (Meter Operator Agreement)The Network/DNO (Distribution Network Operator)The DC (Data Collector)
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Free meter moves (Residential and SME) - We’ll move a meter free of charge if:
- The meter is obstructing access for somebody with a disability, (wheelchair, walker etc.)
- The premise is being renovated e.g., downstairs bathroom, toilet for the purpose of accessibility for a person with a disability
- There is already a prepayment meter in the property and the account has a large outstanding balance, a credit or PAYG meter is not an option, and the meter is no longer accessible
Gas safety check - Customers who are on our PSR and live alone or with elderly people, someone with a disability or a chronic illness, or live with a child under the age of five, can ask for a free gas safety check if:
- A gas safety check hasn’t been completed in the last 12 months
- The customer is in receipt of a means-tested benefit
- There is a live gas supply
The Priority Services Register is a register of customers who’ve been identified as being in a vulnerable circumstance, held by all suppliers & networks. This enables us as a supplier to tailor our services to our customers needs, giving them the best customer service possible.When a customer goes on to the register, that info is shared with:Additional Services
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