People with disabilities in Ireland losing out on suitable services due to ‘one size fits all’ funding model, seminar hears

People with disabilities in Ireland losing out on suitable services due to ‘one size fits all’ funding model, seminar hears

Inclusion Ireland and Down Syndrome Ireland demand new Government taskforce on personal budgets be established as ‘matter of urgency’

Minister for Disabilities Finian McGrath must ensure that cross-departmental approach is taken to new taskforce

Two of Ireland’s leading disability organisations have today demanded that a new Government taskforce which will investigate giving people with disabilities access to their own funding be set up as ‘a matter of urgency’.

Both Inclusion Ireland and Down Syndrome Ireland called for a cross-departmental approach to be taken across health, social protection and justice & equality to the proposed Government taskforce on personal budgets.

More than 200 people – many of whom are parents and carers of people with disabilities – who gathered at the Personal Budget Seminar in The Gibson Hotel, Dublin this morning heard from Minister of State with Disabilities Finian McGrath TD that a “seismic shift is needed in how disability services are provided and funded”.

There are currently 600,000 people with disabilities in Ireland. Under the current ‘one size fits all’ model, funding is allocated to several large disability service providers for people with disabilities in residential and day care settings. The person has little or no say in how the money is used. As a result, many people are left languishing in unsuitable services and settings that are not catered towards their needs.

Many of the 200 delegates spoke of their frustration and anger at how their loved ones are left languishing in unsuitable services and settings that are not catered towards their needs.

Inclusion Ireland CEO Paddy Connolly said:
“Personal budgets offer flexibility and empower people to make decisions about their own lives and move away from outdated models where funding is locked in traditional services.

“The new Government taskforce on personalised budgets must deliver the necessary changes and ensure people with disabilities have more control and independence. It is imperative that this taskforce is established as a matter of urgency.

“We need a seismic shift in how we think about funding for people with disabilities in this country. We need to change the current system of giving large blocks of funding to large institutions. The person with a disability should be given more freedom in choosing which services they actually want.

“Going forward, the Government must ensure that a percentage of the HSE disability budget governed by service-level arrangements (SLAs) is ring-fenced for individualised and community-based models of supports. And this percentage should be increased on an annual basis.”

Down Syndrome Ireland CEO Pat Clarke said:
“One size fits all doesn’t work for anyone in life - so why should it be any different for people with disabilities? There has been a gross lack of policy integration at many levels over the last number of years which has resulted in a lowest common denominator approach to the delivery of services for people with disabilities.

“I have been on this journey with my son David and I, like many parents and people with disabilities, can attest to the frustration and anger we encounter when it comes to accessing suitable services. Individualised budgets will ensure that David, like thousands of other people with disabilities, will be able to make their own decisions about what they want to do with their lives.

“The argument for personal budgets for people with disabilities has been won, now we need the political will to turn the arguments into action.”