Concern for care of disabled residents

SITUATIONS which are “intolerable in the immediate term” were identified by a Health Service Executive working group for people with disabilities living in residential settings.

In its draft report completed in November last year, the Working Group on Congregated Settings carried out a nationwide census of residential centres, in which more than 4,000 people with intellectual disabilities live.

Although the final report is yet to be published, it is expected to recommend the closure of all “congregated settings” — a centre with 10 or more residents — over the next seven years.

According to the first draft, “from an ethical perspective, the case for taking action now to address the situation of this group of people is powerful and unquestionable”.

The document, the findings of which were known prior to funding cuts, identifies situations which are “intolerable in the immediate term, and arrangements which violate fundamental standards of privacy and dignity”.

It finds that “immediate measures” are needed to remedy such situations, and that there is a “compelling need” to identify an immediate emergency fund to support any temporary measures.

Staffing levels were another serious issue pointed out, with one project manger stating: “I do not believe it is possible to respond to the needs of these clients, to respect their rights and to treat them with the dignity they deserve on the current staffing levels.

“The evidence to date suggests that there will need to be significant investment in additional staffing in every instance in order to improve the quality of life of the clients.”

The report states that while some agencies have been successful in accessing capital funding for moving people to new accommodation they have not been so successful in securing staffing.

“There were several examples around the country of new state-of-the -art, purpose built facilities which are unoccupied. This accommodation would be a significant improvement in the living arrangements for service users, but due to the lack of staffing they are empty. These often exist side by side with people living in very poor quality conditions who could not move because of lack of staff,” it concludes.

People in congregated settings have been “left behind”, the document says, and a significant gap has emerged between the quality of residential services that have been developed in more recent years, and the quality that is being provided in the larger settings.


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