Water is vital for every one of us – but for those with long-term medical conditions, mobility restrictions or communication needs, an interruption to water supply can pose significant problems. Anglian Water customer services strategy manager Samantha Ross explains how the Priority Services Register can help support East Anglia’s most vulnerable.
Access to water is recognised as a human right in the United Kingdom – and for society’s most vulnerable, access to a reliable water supply is a matter of priority.
Whether it is those at increased risk of contracting coronavirus, those with long-term medical conditions, those with restricted mobility or those with visual or hearing impairments, certain members of society are affected by situations or conditions that can make standard interactions more challenging. So when a water pipe bursts or repair work is necessary, it is important that these people are taken care of.
Anglian Water’s Priority Services Register provides support for those who find themselves in more vulnerable circumstances. Customers can apply to be added to the register so the water provider is fully aware of special requirements.
Samantha Ross, Customer Services Strategy Manager at Anglian Water, says: “Our Priority Services Register helps us understand which customers have additional requirements. We want to be aware of their circumstances so that we can tailor the service we provide to meet their needs.
“Water is such a critical part of our everyday lives,” Samantha says. “And even more so for those whose healthcare is reliant on access to water. Medical conditions or mobility issues can have a huge impact on your everyday life.”
Interruptions to water supply can be a very serious matter for those with long-term illnesses.
“There are situations where loss of water could be critical to health,” Samantha explains. “Customers on home dialysis are reliant on a supply of water – day or night. Those with medical conditions that require feeding tubes also need access to water.
“This is where the Priority Service Register can help: if we are made aware of these circumstances, we can implement the correct provisions to assist.”
Anybody of pensionable age can apply, in addition to those with young children.
“Water quality issues are rare, but we would want to know if you have a child under the age of 12 months, so that we can reach out. As babies’ immune systems are not fully developed, we wouldn’t want them to be at risk in the event of a water quality incident.”
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What most of us consider simple tasks can become a huge inconvenience for those with restricted mobility, such as reading a water meter.
“We can do meter readings on your behalf if you have mobility restrictions,” Samantha says. “When visiting your property, we would apply our ‘knock and wait’ service – which means you don’t have to panic about taking your time to get to the door or worry about missing an appointment with us.
“It’s these small things that make our customers’ lives that little bit easier.”
The register is also available to assist those that require simple and practical support to manage their account.
“Some customers require their bills in a different format – for example in braille or audio,” Samantha says. “Or they might need to communicate with us via sign language or an interpreter if English is not their first language.”
And for those at increased risk of contracting coronavirus, Samantha has some advice.
“We strongly recommend that you register for our Priority Services Register if you are considered at high-risk of coronavirus and are required to self-isolate.”
However, the Priority Services Register is not just for those with existing medical conditions, mobility restrictions or communication impairments. Anglian Water can also help if you are experiencing life changes such as bereavement, job loss or recovery from hospital treatment.
“If you cannot find your specific requirements online, you may still be eligible. It will just be a case of having a conversation with us so we can understand what your support needs are.”
The service is free of charge and customers can register online or via several different channels.
“If you need support, please contact us in whatever way is suitable for you,” Samantha says. “Feel free to call, apply in writing, use our app, email or use the live-chat function on our website. Our team is available if you have any questions, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.”
For more information please visit anglianwater.co.uk or call 0345 791 9155.