A record number of people were registered last year on the National Intellectual Disability Database (NIDD).
There were some 28,108 individuals included in the database at the end of the year — the highest number since the register opened in 1996.
At 10.5 per 1,000 of the general population, Sligo had the highest NIDD registrations and Leitrim the lowest at 4.4. The national rate was 6.13.
There were more males (58.6%) than females (41.4%) registered and more than a third (36.4%) were under 19 years of age.
Figures in the NIDD annual report, published by Health Research Board, show almost seven out of 10 people registered last year, had lived at home.
There were 27,733 people in receipt of services , with 7,724 (27.9%) in full-time residential care, a decrease of just over 2% on the 2014 figure, with 154 (0.5%) living in psychiatric hospitals.
The report from the NIDD committee shows that 2,167 full-time residential placements and 2,133 residential support services (mainly respite) will be required from now until 2020.
Most (85%) of the full-time residential places needed are in community group homes.
There is a continuing shift away from the more traditional institutional models of care towards community-based living arrangements for those needing residential services.
However, high levels of unmet needs continue to exist among a significant number of individuals registered on the NIDD.
There is concern about a considerable number of people, particularly those who are aged 35 years and over, who need a full-time residential place in the next five years.
The head of national health information systems at the Health Research Board, Sarah Craig, said that, year-on-year, the NIDD annual report showed people with intellectual disabilities were living longer.
“Of the people with moderate, severe or profound intellectual disability, the percentage aged 35 years and over increased from 28.5% in 1974 when NIDD data was first reported to 48.7% in 2015,” said Dr Craig.
She said the improved life expectancy among adults with a severe intellectual disability placed an increased demand on full-time residential services as fewer places were becoming free over time.
Other contributing figures to the growth in numbers is the increase in the general population over the period, resulting from increased births, a reduction in the number of deaths, and more people coming into the country than leaving it.
While the figures reflect a steady growth in the lifespan of individuals with an intellectual disability, there has been a levelling off in the past two years.
The report also shows that the number of people with an intellectual disability living in psychiatric hospitals decreased by 11 (6.6%), from 165 in 2014 to 154 last year.
Despite a high level of service provision last year, there is still a significant demand for new and enhanced multidisciplinary support services.
The primary need is for psychology, occupational, and speech and language therapies.
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