“Get started” - Message from Seminar on Personal Budgets to Taskforce
Vision, natural supports, community and ordinary lives – these were the key themes discussed at a seminar hosted by Inclusion Ireland, Leap and the Centre for Disability Law and Policy on 19th April.
The seminar ‘Personal Budgets – Towards a Good Life’ discussed how personal budgets can be used as an enabler of good lives.
Over 100 people, including people with disabilities, family members, disability advocates, policy makers and service providers attended the event, which was held in Dublin.
Minister of State with special responsibility for disability, Finian McGrath, opened the conference by affirming the importance of choice and control. He gave a commitment that the Taskforce on Personalised Budgets will be transparent and accessible in its work.
The delay in the ratification of the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities (UNCRPD) was touched on by the Minister, restating his continued commitment to completing this process during his term. Minister McGrath promised to ensure that “nobody will be excluded”.
The Minister stated that by the end of 2017 there will be an implementation plan for personal budgets and within this the voice of the individual will be heard throughout. He concluded his speech with reference to the importance of the quality of life for every citizen of Ireland.
International disability expert, Michael Kendrick discussed the policy implications of personal budgets, drawing on the experience from other countries. He urged decision makers not to spend too much time trying to develop a perfect system at the beginning but to “get started” and refine and evolve the system from there.
Professor Gerard Quinn of the Centre of Disability Law and Policy, NUI Galway spoke of the denial of personhood reflected in the existing model of disability services in Ireland. This model is in conflict with the principles identified in the UNCRPD, of choice, support and access.
Prof. Quinn discussed how the current system of service provision, denies choice for the individual. In his concluding remarks, Prof. Quinn stated that “somebody needs to say to the service industry ‘change in the near future or you will not be able to bid for services’”.
Rachel Cassen from Leap, spoke about her experience as a parent but also as a member of the Taskforce on Personalised Budgets. Her presentation explored what we mean by a good life and how a personal budget can be a means to achieve this.
From a service provider perspective, Brendan Broderick of Muiríosa Foundation, spoke of the 65 people with individual arrangements (not formal personal budgets) who they have experience of supporting. Some of these people are those individuals who have been failed by conventional services.
Mr. Broderick posed the question, “what does a good life mean or look like for you?”, saying we should keep this in mind rather than focusing on what a good service is when talking about personal budgets.
Molly O’Keeffe and Aoife O’Toole from PossibilitiesPlus discussed how the partnership between Molly’s sister, Fran, her family and PossibilitiesPlus are helping Fran to live an ordinary life in her community. Molly and Aoife told those present that we need to look at how we are using the existing disability budget and explore how we might get better value for it.
Paul Alford of Inclusion Ireland spoke about his experience of being institutionalised since birth, always sharing rooms with other people and having no choice who he lived with and what he did on a daily basis. He spoke about his frustration of never having control over his money.
Paul then spoke about the transformation that happened in his life with the support of PossibilitiesPlus and friends who were able to help Paul move into his own apartment in Navan. Paul talked about the different activities he is involved in now and how he likes to spend his time. Paul’s story is the perfect example of how personal budgets enable a life of dignity through choice and control.
You can find videos of the speakers here
You can find out more about the Taskforce on Personalised Budgets, including how to contact the Taskforce here