Disabled exiting care 'without planning'
VULNERABLE PEOPLE with disabilities are being moved out of institutions and into the community, without adequate planning and often to places where they are isolated, stressed and being prescribed increased doses of medication, a report to the National Advocacy Service (NAS) warns.
Another report details how disabled people who want to live independently are being refused rent supplement by community welfare officers who believe the payment is not suitable for them.
The first report describes “poor planning of relocation of clients out of group residential settings” and says recommendations from the Health Service Executive’s working group on congregated settings are being implemented prematurely.
The HSE published Time to Move on from Congregated Settings: A Strategy for Community Inclusion in June last year.
It calls for the 4,000 people in 72 centres around the State to move to “dispersed forms of housing in ordinary communities, provided mainly by housing authorities”.
The National Advocacy Service was established last year by Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton to provide an independent voice to vulnerable people with disabilities when important decisions are being made about them.
Its 35 advocates work with people with intellectual disabilities, mental health difficulties, sensory problems and acquired brain injuries.
In his presentation to the board of the NAS, Ben North, advocacy manager in Clondalkin, Dublin, said the main issue for clients being moved from a congregated settings into the community was the location of community housing.
They were often “very rural” locations in areas “with little or no community presence, participation and integration options”.
He said clients found they were more isolated and those “previously able to walk into town [were] now unable to access locality”.
“Staff report these moves are resulting in increase use of required medication due to ‘challenging behaviour’ arising from lack of meaningful activity.”
In case he said a multidisciplinary team had recommended a day service be provided for a client after their move into the community. None was provided.
In another a client with autism spectrum disorder was moved with two weeks’ notice. There were “massive challenges to adapt to such rapid change” and an “increase in behaviour support needs”.
Josephine Keaveney, national advocacy manager in the west, detailed a case where a client with an intellectual disability was refused rent supplement.
The client had been accepted on the local council housing list and applied for rent supplement to rent privately in the meantime. The community welfare service kept asking for more information which was provided.
“It transpired the CWS (Community welfare service ) were not willing to pay the client rent supplement as they viewed him as being a person in need of long-term housing support, Ms Keaveney said.
She said the issue was not resolved and “the issue will most certainly present again with numerous clients who wish to move to a more independent type of living, refused rent supplement on the grounds of their support needs and need for long-term housing”.