Northern Ireland has strict rules to protect consumers in their dealings with energy companies and access to utilities, particularly customers with special care needs or belonging to vulnerable groups. A large part of this is down to Critical Care Registers, and it is important for consumers to have at least a basic understanding of what these entail.
Critical Care Registers and Customer Care Registers
In addition to Critical Care Registers, you may have also heard of the similarly-named Customer Care Registers. These two types of register are not strictly the same thing but are closely related and ultimately contribute towards the same goal of ensuring that customers with specific or additional needs are properly catered to.
Northern Irish utility providers are required by law to keep a Customer Care Register. This records which of their customers fit into certain groups, including those with disabilities, those with chronic illnesses, and those of pensionable age, and to offer services to accommodate any additional needs. Critical Care Registers, meanwhile, record those customers who have serious medical conditions and rely on their electricity, gas or water supply for essential day-to-day care.
How these registers are used
Critical Care Registers are used to ensure energy companies are aware of the needs of customers who rely on utility access for their health, enabling them to prioritise and protect the needs of these customers; for example, a customer might appear on the Critical Care Register because they need their electricity supply to run essential medical equipment. Some might have an alternative energy source, such as one provided by a supplier of solar panels in Northern Ireland such as www.solarpanelni.com/, but the great majority will simply rely on their mains electricity supply. Companies will give these customers several days’ notice of any scheduled interruptions to help ensure they can plan around them, and will prioritise restoring their supply or providing an alternative energy source in the event of an unscheduled interruption.
Customer Care Registers serve a similar purpose but are designed for much more everyday circumstances and largely take the form of alternative service offerings to make life easier; for example, customers who are on this register and have a visual impairment may be able to access alternative bill formats, such as large print or Braille.