Families of adults with disabilities are experiencing “a real crisis every single day” due to the lack of residential care places in Cork, writes David Linnane.
According to figures presented by the COPE Foundation, there are 168 people waiting for residential places in their centres, and 27 of those are ‘priority one’, meaning that both of their parents have passed away or their sole carer is incapacitated.
The HSE’s Cork Kerry Community Health group said that it has highlighted the problem at a national level, seeking support for more places, but expects the waiting list challenge to continue this year.
The figures were supplied by the Cope Foundation to Fianna Fáil TD Michael McGrath, who said there was a growing frustration at the lack of resources for services for people with disabilities.
“The HSE is not even providing the funding for emergency cases to be dealt with. Behind closed doors, within the walls of certain family homes, there is a real crisis every single day of every week of the year, and they are not being looked after.”
He said that respite for carers is also an issue, as there are not enough temporary beds to place people in.
Mr McGrath added: “It’s something, as a politician, I’m contacted about quite a lot. It’s frustrating to see families doing their very best to care for a loved one, and they need a rest too. It’s not happening frequently enough, unfortunately.”
Cork Kerry Community Healthcare said that that it is concerned with the scale of the problem and is doing everything it can to meet the need for places.
“We, as part of the HSE, have highlighted the level of need in the disability sector in submissions for funding to both the Department of Health and the Department of Finance and Public Expenditure. While Cork Kerry Community Healthcare hasn’t received its funding allocation for 2018 yet, we expect challenges to continue in 2018,” said a spokesperson.
They said that there is a committee, which includes representation from COPE, tasked with prioritising individual cases, with an agreement to place ‘priority one’ cases first.
Mr McGrath said that his party will focus on the issue, but will be presenting people with the choice for better public services at the next election.
“The government has to deliver for people with special needs. It comes down to a lack of resources, undoubtedly. It’s why we have to make a major decision as a country about where we want to go,” he said.
This story first appeared in the Evening Echo.