Freedom to choose on the best supports for those with disabilities leads to better outcomes

Over decades, the official attitude towards individuals with disability tended to be overbearing and paternalistic

 

Allowing persons with disabilities to make personal choices and exercise independent judgment on how State financial supports are used can have life-enhancing, confidence-building results.

A campaign by Inclusion Ireland and Down Syndrome Ireland in favour of personalised budgets has been supported by Minister of State Finian McGrath with the expectation that a reasonable proportion of the Health Service Executive’s disability budget will be set aside for individualised and community-based supports.

It will not be easy. Over the decades, the official attitude towards individuals with disability has tended to be overbearing and paternalistic. This has manifested itself in a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach and the provision of residential and day care services where the client has little or no say in how money allocated for their welfare is spent or the kind of services they receive.

Changing that system is certain to generate opposition from existing service providers and from those health administrators who wish to keep the financing of services as rigid and as uncomplicated as possible.

Such predictable opposition reflects a mindset in which the provider, rather than the client, is boss. It permeates many aspects of the health service. To counteract it within acute hospitals, a “money follows the patient” approach was tried. Resistance continues.

The funding of disabled people on an individual basis, so they can customise the services they require, has been successfully introduced in Britain and elsewhere. It operates here on a minuscule scale but is difficult to access. What is required is a change of attitude and greater official flexibility.

Empowering people – particularly those with disabilities – to live as independently as possibly should be the motivation behind an effective health service. Mr McGrath has endorsed a compelling campaign in support of those whose voices are rarely heard at government level.

Vested interests and bureaucracy should not be allowed to suppress this important development in personal freedom and self-expression.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.