SEVERE CRISIS FACING 30,000 PEOPLE WITH INTELLECTUAL DISABILITIES AND THEIR FAMILIES

(27 Jan 2020)

SEVERE CRISIS FACING 30,000 PEOPLE WITH INTELLECTUAL DISABILITIES AND THEIR FAMILIES

Funding and Rights Issues Demand Cross-Party Action in Accordance with UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)”

26 January 2020 (GALWAY). The National Federation of Voluntary Service Providers (NFVSP); the umbrella organisation representing 59 voluntary/non statutory service providers, who together support 30,000 people with intellectual disabilities and their families; announces today that people with disabilities and their families are experiencing an unprecedented crisis, due to severe underfunding. This is causing a backlog of highly distressing unmet needs that must be addressed with appropriate funding, to ensure that the rights of people with disabilities are upheld as per the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (CRPD).

Chairman of the NFVSP, Sean Abbott, explained, “Across age groups there are people with intellectual disabilities who are not currently able to access basic supports. For instance, there are long waiting lists for children’s services. The extent of the waiting lists means that some children with disabilities are even ageing out of Early Intervention, missing key milestones with no access to vital developmental supports.

Additionally, adults who have an intellectual disability and need to move out of the family home have no system to access residential supports – with only a small number of emergencies being funded this year (amounting to an average of approximately 2.5 places per county). Meanwhile more than 2,000 people remain living in institutions, with the pace of the move to community supports falling years behind schedule”.

In figures gathered this week, the NFVSP and its Members have identified that across 38 of its services alone, the lack of a system to access residential support means that at least 1250 parents aged 70-and-over continue to be the primary carer for their adult son or daughter living at home, close to 400 of whom are over 80 years old, with no visibility of residential support for their loved one in sight.

These issues fly in the face of Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (which was ratified by Ireland in 2018) and which states that people with disabilities must have: “access to a range of in-home, residential and other community support services, including personal assistance necessary to support living and inclusion in the community, and to prevent isolation or segregation from the community”.

NFVSP Board member and CEO of the Daughters of Charity Disability Support Services, Natalya Jackson, adds “Compounding these unmet needs is a lack of access to essential respite, multi-disciplinary supports and transport. Disability services have been left behind and forgotten”. Pat Reen, CEO of Prosper Group in North Dublin and County Meath adds “For Section 39 funded organisations, the lack of pay restoration is also leading to a situation where we cannot recruit or retain staff, and this directly affects how we are able to support people.

What is needed to solve this crisis?

The NFVSP, along with other disability groups, has indicated that investment is urgently needed to address the needs of people with disabilities and uphold people’s basic rights to live as equal citizens. Cross party agreement is needed to ensure that the next Programme for Government acknowledges the rights and needs of people with disabilities through concrete actions. ‘We are asking every party to commit to meeting unmet needs, upholding disability rights and investing the required resources to address the crisis’, Mr. Abbott said.

The National Federation, the Oireachtas Disability Group and the Government’s own figures* indicate the need for an investment of €211 million per annum for five years to begin to address the rights and needs of people with disabilities. However, in a shocking development, this January, disability services were informed of an additional €20million cut to their already underfunded budgets. At the most basic level, Mr Abbott explains, this cut must be reversed to prevent the crisis deteriorating even further; “the State must provide the HSE with the means to respond to the needs presenting, which it has failed to do for successive years”.  

Due to sustained cuts to disability funding which have not been reversed, along with an increased population of people requiring supports; and higher costs of insurance and compliance, many of the services providing supports are carrying deficits and are at risk of no longer being able to continue.

The National Federation of Voluntary Service Providers is calling on all parties to take stock of their policies during this General Election period, to ensure that the needs and rights of people with disabilities and their families are listened to and acted on. The appropriate investment must be put in place to begin to address the distressing needs that individuals and families are experiencing.

Mr. Abbott concludes, “Ireland has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD)**, the time for implementation is now. We must secure investment to address the urgent crisis and we need to ensure a Cabinet Minister and an Oireachtas Committee are appointed to oversee implementation across all Departments. People with disabilities are simply looking for supports that would allow their right to achieve their potential as equal citizens to be upheld”.

All 59 Members of the National Federation of Voluntary Service Providers agree that increased and fair funding is required urgently to continue to provide the vital services for those who avail of their services and their families on a daily basis.

#disabilityfundingcrisis   #disabiltyGE2020  #disabilityvotescount

NOTE to editors

The National Federation of Voluntary Service Providers Supporting People with Intellectual Disability is the national umbrella organisation of voluntary/non-statutory agencies who provide direct services to people with intellectual disability and autism in Ireland on the basis of service arrangements with the HSE.  Our 59 Member Organisations account for at least two-thirds of this country’s direct service provision to people with an intellectual disability and support 30,000 people and their families.

The services & supports provided to people with an intellectual disability are founded on the values as set out in the O’Brien (1987) Principles of Inclusion, Choice, Dignity, Respect, Participation and Contribution. They are rooted in the rights-based perspective that people with intellectual disability have the right to live full and active lives, and be active participating members of their own community.

Charitable Status: CHY14080     Twitter: @NatFedVolBodies

* Transforming Lives: Programme to Implement the Recommendation of the ‘Value for Money and Policy Review of Disability Services in Ireland’: Report on the Future Needs for Disability Services (2018). http://nda.ie/Publications/Disability-Supports/Transforming-Lives.pdf

**https://www.un.org/disabilities/documents/convention/convoptprot-e.pdf

Contact

Alison Harnett

National Federation of Voluntary Service Providers

T: 091 792 316

E: alison.harnett@fedvol.ie

 



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