Dáil Éireann - Volume 638 - 26 September, 2007
Written Answers. - Services for People with Disabilities.
Deputy Charlie O’Connor Deputy Charlie O’Connor
Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Health and Children the policies she has put in place to improve disability services nationwide; her plans for the future; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19765/07]
Deputy Jimmy Devins Deputy Jimmy Devins
Deputy Jimmy Devins:The Government is committed to providing a high quality service to all people with a disability as illustrated by the substantial investment in the disability sector over the last number of years.
As part of this commitment the National Disability Strategy was launched in September 2004. It provides for a framework of new supports for people with disabilities. The Strategy builds on a strong equality framework, which is reflected in several pieces of equality legislation. It puts the policy of mainstreaming of public services for people with disabilities, which was adopted by Government in 2000, on a legal footing. The main elements of the Strategy are:
The Disability Act, 2005;
The Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act, 2004;
Six Outline Sectoral Plans published by Government Departments;
The Citizens Information Act, 2007.
Funding of Multi-Annual Investment Programme (2006-2009): An integral part of the National Disability Strategy is the Multi-Annual Investment Programme, MAIP, announced in the 2005 Budget, which provides for an additional €900m to support the development of high priority disability services over the period 2006 to 2009. The programme covers both current and capital spending. These commitments include the development of new residential, respite and day places for persons with intellectual disability and autism and the development of new residential  places and extra hours of home support and personal assistance for persons with physical and/or sensory disabilities in each of the years covered by the programme.
In 2007 additional funding amounting to €75m was provided to meet costs associated with the 2007 element of the Multi-Annual Investment Programme and in particular to enhance the multi-disciplinary support services for people with disabilities. This is in line with the Government’s commitment to build capacity within the health services to deliver on the various legislative provisions contained in the National Disability Strategy.
The MAIP provides that, by the end of 2009, 1290 new residential places, 430 new respite places, and 2,540 new day places will have been commissioned for intellectual disability services and those with autism. In the same period 380 new residential places and 1,200,000 extra hours of home support and personal assistance will be provided for people with physical and sensory disabilities.
In addition, an extra €2m is being provided each year of the programme to cover the cost of additional staffing needs in order to transfer about 600 persons with intellectual disability / autism from psychiatric hospitals and other inappropriate placements.
Disability Act 2005: The Disability Act 2005 is a central element of the National Disability Strategy. The Act is a positive measure designed to advance and underpin participation by people with disabilities in everyday life.
Part 2 of the Act commenced for children aged under 5 years with effect from 1st June 2007 and provides for an independent assessment of need for such persons and for a formal statement of the services that will be provided to them arising from the assessment. This prioritisation reflects the importance of intervention early in life, which can have a significant impact on the disabling effects of a condition or impairment. Part 2 will be commenced in respect of children aged 5-18 in tandem with the implementation of the EPSEN Act. The statutory requirements of Part 2 of the Disability Act will be extended to adults as soon as possible but no later than 2011.
In the meantime, services for adults with a disability will continue to be developed over the next number of years. The primary focus of many of the elements of the Multi-Annual Investment Programme is on meeting the identified needs of adults with disabilities. Enhancements in multi-disciplinary support services for both adults and children will also be put in place progressively over the coming years. In advance of the commencement of the Act for all age groups, the HSE will be promoting the practice of assessment of individual needs and the provision of service statements for all service users, as capacity permits.
Dáil Éireann 638 Written Answers. Services for People with Disabilities.