McGrath hears of families’ unhappiness with HSE disability services

Minister to establish taskforce on roll-out of personalised budgets for disabled people

Minister of State for Disabilities Finian McGrath meets Fionn Crombie Angus from Galway at a seminar on personalised budgets for people with disabilities. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Minister of State for Disabilities Finian McGrath meets Fionn Crombie Angus from Galway at a seminar on personalised budgets for people with disabilities. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

Thousands of people with disabilities may be “languishing in the wrong service,” their human rights being violated, the Minister of State for Disabilities was told yesterday.

Finian McGrath, who was attending a seminar on personalised budgets for people with disabilities, heard families tell of how unhappy they were with the Health Service Executive’s disability services. Some said they felt “bullied”, “harassed”, “ignored” by the HSE.

Personalised budgets mean the person with the disability is provided with the funds to purchase services they want and need rather than the current model, dominated by residential and “day services” in group settings, provided by large disability services.

The person has little or no say in the services they get and how the money allocated for them is spent.

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Inclusion IrelandDown Syndrome IrelandIrelandRita WalshHelena

When her schooling finished, she was assigned a place in a day service.

Ms Walsh said her daughter’s behaviour changed – she began talking to herself throughout the day, was making hand gestures and was clearly miserable.

Ms Walsh gradually removed her from the day service and, with the personalised budget, she and Helena have tailored activities throughout the week that challenge her. She works a day in her old school, a day in a shop, she makes items to sell for fundraising and she does cookery lessons.

“We need champions in the HSE and within service providers to make this happen for other families,” she said.

Mr McGrath said he was fully behind personalised budgets and would establish a taskforce to examine how best to roll them out.

Different views

“The establishment of a taskforce on personalised budgets is a key element in the programme for government. My initial view is that the taskforce should concentrate on personalised budgets for services for people with disability funded by the HSE in the first instance.”

Inclusion Ireland chief executive Paddy Connolly called for the taskforce to be established as a matter of urgency.

“The Government must ensure a percentage of HSE disability budget is ringfenced for individualised and community-based supports,” he said.

Dr Simon Duffy, director of the British lobby organisation Welfare Reform, said there would be resistance to individualised budgets, particularly from current service providers who would see them as a threat to their businesses.

Mr McGrath also announced that respite care grants were being restored.