Parents of young disabled shocked at cuts in services


PARENTS OF hundreds of young people with intellectual disabilities say they are shocked that many of their children may not have any service available when they finish school in September of this year.

The Health Service Executive’s service plan for this year acknowledges that reductions in services are “unavoidable” and will affect day services, residential and respite care.

About 650 young people with intellectual disabilities are due to leave school in September.

Many voluntary service providers say there is no dedicated funding to provide day services such as occupational therapy and other activities, which are considered crucial in the quality of life of people with disabilities.

The National Parents and Siblings Alliance yesterday said hundreds of children would be affected. There is growing uncertainty over whether emergency residential placements – such as when the parent of a person with an intellectual disability dies suddenly – will be available

“We are not talking of privilege here, but merely the means to maintain a basic quality of life in a secure setting,” said Frank Conaty of the alliance.

He added that the manner with which austerity was being distributed was deeply flawed given that people with disabilities were being forced to endure cuts to their basic quality of life.

“The Government must rethink its policy and the HSE in this instance must stand up to its statutory responsibility to uphold the health and welfare of the people it is charged to support.”

Minister of State for disability Kathleen Lynch said the HSE and the Department of Health were still in talks over how cutbacks are likely to affect services.

She told RTÉ Radio’s This Weekprogramme that she was “perturbed” at comments by service providers over the extent of services likely to be cut as they had not signalled this when their budget was agreed late last year.

Ms Lynch said the service providers had been protected in the budget – relative to other health services – and hoped that greater efficiencies and new ways of working would minimise the impact on frontline care.

She said work was under way on moving towards individualised payments which would give people with disabilities and their families greater control over the type of service they chose to access.