Special needs assistants to help in public services

Special needs assistants to help in public services

A number of special needs assistants will be made available for work in other essential public services, it has been announced.

Minister for Education Joe McHugh said that a contingency plan will see special needs assistants (SNA) freed up for a new temporary assignment programme as part of the Government’s response to the Covid-19 crisis.

It forms part of the Government’s efforts to free up frontline workers for essential services.

The move is part of a wider temporary assignment programme which is opening for public sector employees.

Mr McHugh said: “Staff across the education sector deserve huge thanks for the effort they are putting in to continue teaching and support for students amid the Covid-19 response.

“It is a very challenging time for everyone. Your work at this time will never be forgotten by the people you support.

“Our priority in the education and training sector is to ensure young people and students keep learning, despite the trying circumstances.

“Having said that, some workers will now be able to put their skills and experience to further use.

I know this is a new departure for many people but opening up a temporary assignment programme is about giving some workers the opportunity to be on standby to help others in great need

“SNAs do fantastic work day in day out for children with a variety of needs in our schools. Their support hugely enriches the lives of children. Crucially, they have much-needed skills and experience which can be of huge benefit to other services and I believe will be of great support to the national effort.

“I know this is a new departure for many people but opening up a temporary assignment programme is about giving some workers the opportunity to be on standby to help others in great need.”

As part of the measures, all public servants who are not medically advised to self-isolate “must be available to carry out work” either to deliver services within their own sector or for temporary assignment within the wider public service.

Any staff who are not required for educational or research services will be available for assignment on a temporary basis to support delivery of other essential public services.

Community Services for children with a disability is the priority area for temporary assignment, including public, private and voluntary healthcare settings.

Special needs assistants could also be making video calls with advice on routines and home schooling to families of children they know.

Meanwhile, the National Education Psychology Service is to launch a new podcast to help young people cope with anxiety during the Covid 19 emergency.

Government official Liz Canavan said: “We’re very conscious that parents, children, young people may be anxious about the disease and about the disruption to their own routine, even school and all the other activities, they’d like to be involved in.

“No age group is immune to the stress  caused by this crisis. So in order to address this fear and anxiety in young people in particular, a podcast has been created with the systems of the National Education Psychology Service (NEPS) which offers a series of relaxation techniques, specifically designed to help young people cope with that anxiety, and that’s available via SoundCloud.”

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;
  • GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.
  • ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024

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