St Michael's warns more cuts will be 'devastating'
208 adults with an intellectual disability live with parents aged 70 or over in Dublin, writes PAUL CULLEN,Health Correspondent
THE BIGGEST provider of services for the intellectually disabled in Dublin has warned of “devastating implications” for families of any further cuts in December’s budget.
St Michael’s House says it is deeply concerned about the prospect of a fifth year of cuts as part of continuing austerity next year.
The organisation has launched a campaign to get the Government to consider the impact of cuts next year before imposing a fifth successive yearly reduction in its budget.
Families of intellectually disabled people who attended a meeting organised by the charity last week were told that it had been informed that the cuts in 2013 would be “the most severe to date”.
The chief executive of St Michael’s House, Patricia Doherty, said the financial situation has worsened, with implications for services in St Michael’s and intellectual disability services nationally.
St Michael’s says it has the longest waiting list for residential care in the State, with 317 people on a priority list.
“Some 45 of these families are in very serious difficulty and huge pressure is being exerted on the organisation to provide residential services for this group,” it says.
At least 208 adults with an intellectual disability are living with parents aged 70 years or over, while 75 are with parents aged over 80.
The organisation has seen its funding cut by over €11 million since 2009 to about €70 million at present.
In spite of this it has over 160 more people in day services and 45 more in residential services compared with 2008.
A moratorium on recruitment was introduced in 2009, and the workforce has dropped by 160 staff since then. Savings have been achieved through reduced absenteeism, staff reductions and cuts in agency staff.
According to Ms Doherty, families should have the opportunity to suggest ways they might support St Michael’s “to manage in these times of unprecedented difficulty”.
“We will continue to work relentlessly to protect all services. However at this point we are concerned that decisions taken by the Government, the Department of Health and the HSE could undermine our capacity in this respect.”
St Michael’s was founded after the mother of a young boy with Down syndrome who was unable to secure schooling for him placed the following advertisement in The Irish Times in 1955: “Association for Parents of Mentally Backward Children. Lady wishing to form above would like to contact anyone interested.”
Today it provides services for over 1,600 people with an intellectual disability and their families in the greater Dublin area.