Funding cut threatens future of service for Kerry adults with intellectual disabilities

“We are making this an election issue. We will not tolerate the cuts. We simply can’t. Already the service is not sufficient."

Funding cut threatens future of service for Kerry adults with intellectual disabilities

A cut of tens of thousands of euro to one of the country’s oldest services for adults with intellectual disability, The Kerry Parents and Friends, may put an end to the already limited respite facility in the county.

Parents and representatives have spoken of their dismay at the HSE decision, announced just before the election, to cut adult intellectual disability budgets.

The organisation offers day, residential and a host of services across Kerry to 300 people, some of whom have severe needs and are living with elderly parents. It has been severely stretched since the cuts of the economic downturn.

There is now is only one respite centre for families and this is in the north of the county near Listowel.

Kay Sayers of Grenville, Listowel whose son Sean, 36, needs 24-hour care said there is already a waiting list for the four-bed centre at Kilmorna.

“Some actually never get to use the service and almost never for more than two nights,” she said.

The Kilmorna centre was opened two years ago after intensive lobbying by Kay and other parents.

One of the three beds is for emergency needs and families on the list are told at the start of the month if there is respite for their loved ones for one or two nights.

“Some of the parents are in their 70s and 80s and they are caring for adult men,” said Ms Sayers.

We are making this an election issue. We will not tolerate the cuts. We simply can’t. Already the service is not sufficient.

Marie Linehan, CEO of Kerry Parents and Friends said there is also a need for a respite centre in the south of the county.

However the service – established in 1973 - has been existing on a shoestring since 2008 and went through a tough period between 2008 and 2013.

It has barely managed to keep the doors open for a range of services across the county since then.

It was told last week that the HSE was cutting the budget on adult intellectual disability services and the Kerry Parents and Friends service was going to get €60,000 less.

“It means we will now have to cut a service. There is no decision on which one, because this time we have nowhere to go,” Ms Linehan said.

The HSE/Cork Kerry Community Health Service said: "All health services are this year working on making savings, and have targets for these savings.

"Cork Kerry Community Healthcare has sought to discuss with Kerry Parents and Friends Association how it can make savings without impacting services. Unfortunately this discussion has yet to take place, but we remain available to discuss this with KPFA.

"We have made it very clear that these savings must not impact on the people using KPFA's services."

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