In mid-March Disability day services closed to people with intellectual disabilities with a small number of exceptions. In May and early June, Inclusion Ireland surveyed the people who use these services and their families on the impact the closure of service has had on them and the supports they have received in this time. In total, 291 family members answered our survey and 55 people with intellectual disabilities responded to an easy-to-read version of our survey giving a total response of 346.
The closure of day services impacting on the mental health of people cannot be underestimated. A significant number of respondents reported increased loneliness, increased anxiety, and increased challenging behaviour or anger. At the same time more that 20% of people reported being happier during the lock down. As services reopen and start to support people with intellectual disabilities in a ‘different or remote’ manner the needs of people with high support needs and complex disabilities must be considered carefully. This group of people tell us they cannot access virtual technology even with one on one family support to do so.
The report recommends:
1. Timely Re-opening of Day Services – Equality of Access
2. Full Restoration of Services and Supports, in line with New Directions
3. Funding for COVID-19 Adaptations to ensure people can attend for full weeks
4. Access to Therapy and Respite
5. Consultation - the Voice of the Person to ensure services are restored in a person centred manner
The report including an easy-read executive summary is available to download in full here