Next Steps Project

Introduction to the Next Steps Project

The National Federation of Voluntary Bodies is undertaking a project called ‘Next Steps’  to identify supports and barriers in the change process as our members move to more individualised supports for people who use our services. The objective of the project is to create shared learning that will assist Federation members in embracing the radical change agenda envisaged in the new vision for services and supports to people with intellectual disabilities in Ireland. The overall aim of these changes are to ensure that people with intellectual disabilities are supported to live a life of their choosing.

In spite of the economic difficulties which we are all experiencing these are exciting times for people with disabilities, their families and the staff who support them. Many service providers are reconfiguring their services to provide more appropriate community based supports. The publication of the Disability Policy Review  and of reports on Time to Move On from Congregated Settings (June 2011) and the 'New Directions review of Adult Day Services (February 2012) presents important opportunities for all concerned. However an essential element in availing of these opportunities is the management of the transitions to new service options that promote community participation and inclusion.

In February 2015, The Next Steps Project was recognized as one of 39 “Innovative Practices 2015” at the United Nations offices in Vienna. The project was highlighted at the 2015 Zero Project Conference, an international summit on independent living and political participation attended by more than 400 experts in the field from around the world, for its achievements in supporting people with intellectual disabilities to live lives of their choosing and sharing the learning from developing individualised supports as a community of practice.


Supporting our member organisations and people who use our services through evidence and shared learning

We believe that a key factor in supporting our members in moving to new service options is practical guidance for the change management process required to transform services. To this end the National Federation have established the Next Steps Project.  Through the Next Steps Project we have developed a community of learning between our member organisations and key stakeholders including those supported by our members, as they develop more innovative community based supports.

One of the first actions of the Next Steps Project was for the participating organisations to agree a vision of individualised supports . This vision was agreed by all participants and is at the centre of the initiatives that the members are working towards.

We have taken a case-study approach to progressing with real changes that support people in living a life of their choosing. Each of the participating organisations is working with one person (or in some cases more than one person) on an individual basis, developing new types of supports in line with the agreed vision. Every two months the participants come together to share what they have learnt as they progress with this journey.

Federation members are working together in new ways to ensure best value is achieved for the initiatives developed and to ensure a multiplier effect for the learning undertaken. We are monitoring the initiatives undertaken and identifying supports and barriers in the change process, in order to share our learning in the change process with the wider Federation membership and with all key stakeholders nationally.

The Next Steps Project has gathered key relevant policy documents. These are made available on our website for quick reference.

We have also gathered some useful tools and resources and further reading. These materials continue to be updated over time as we continue learning and sharing information.

We also developed a set of quick reference policy summaries which contain the key goals of the Disability Policy Review, the Time to Move On from Congregated Settings Report, New Directions, and the National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability 2011-2016.

Next Steps Dissemination Event 2014

One of the key aims of the Next Steps Project is to share the learning gained through the work that takes place through its community of learning. In January 2013 an event was held in Portlaoise to share the learning that had been gained during 2012. There was a huge amount of interest in this seminar, and it was decided to run a similar event in 2014.

On 24 March 2014, over 220 self advocates; parents and family members; staff from voluntary service providers, the HSE and local authorities; and representatives from Government Departments gathered in Portlaoise to share in the learning from the Next Steps Project that had been gathered during the previous year. A waiting list was needed as the event was over-subscribed, demonstrating the enthusiasm and interest throughout the sector for moving to individualised supports. The event was opened by Brian O'Donnell, Chief Executive of the National Federation of Voluntary Bodies, who described the context in which the Next Steps Project was begun. The Next Steps Project was delighted to welcome Mr. Pat Healy, National Director of Social Care with the HSE to speak at the conference. Mr Healy described the key challenges of the HSE in 2014; to reform service provision in order to deliver a more person-centred model of support and to sustain service provision by delivering within resources, targets and standards. Key aims include the safe implementation of transition; incremental improvement in performance year on year and the development of individualised budgeting. Mr. Healy indicated his strong support for the work of the Next Steps Project in working with the HSE towards reform and the realisation of individualised supports.

Following Mr. Healy's presentation, Chairperson of the Next Steps Project John O'Dea described the vision that guides the project, and Alison Harnett Next Steps Project Coordinator provided an update on the progress of the project to date in supporting people in the choices they wish to make to enable good lives.

2014 Presentations

A selection of the presentations that were made are provided below:

Next Steps Dissemination Event 2013

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The National Federation of Voluntary Bodies hosted an event on 31 January 2013 in Portloaise to share the learning that emerged over the course of the previous year in the Next Steps Project, attended by Minister Kathleen Lynch. The aim of the event was to highlight the learning from case studies undertaken in 2012 as member organisations as they worked towards the provision of individualised supports for individuals supported by their organisations.

Presentations from the 2013 conference are available to download below:

The work continues in 2015, with more case studies being progressed and more organisations taking part.

Contact us

Further information will be posted on this website throughout the progress of the Next Steps Project.

For any queries or further details please contact the Project Coordinator, Alison Harnett: or phone the National Federation at 091 792316.


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