Simon Harris urged to clarify coronavirus reporting in disability settings

Inclusion Ireland says confusion remains around the reporting of Covid-19 cases in residential disability services.
Simon Harris urged to clarify coronavirus reporting in disability settings
Health Minister Simon Harris will meet representatives from Inclusion Ireland later today

Inclusion Ireland says confusion remains around the reporting of Covid-19 cases in residential disability services.

The virus incident rate in long-term residential settings is 42 times greater than the general population but it is not known how this breaks down into disability settings.

Representatives from Inclusion Ireland meet Health Minister Simon Harris today, and will be seeking clarity on the issue.

The organisation, which representatives 66,000 people with intellectual disabilities and their families, believe confusion remains about the accuracy of reported cases of Covid-19 cases in residential settings.

Inclusion Ireland chief executive Enda Egan says the high infection rate in long-term residential settings is very worrying for people with intellectual disabilities and their families.

Mr Egan wants the minister to redouble his efforts to move people with intellectual disabilities out of institutional settings to more community inclusive, smaller settings.

He blames successive governments for failing to move people with intellectual disabilities from large congregated settings into the community.

Because of the long-delayed transition process, thousands of people with disabilities continue to be unnecessarily exposed to an increased risk of contracting the virus.

Almost all disability day services have been closed since mid-March, a significant cause of stress for people with intellectual disabilities and their families.

Inclusion Ireland has found that people's experience of day service support during the public health crisis is minimal and mixed.

“Some people have had no support or a weekly check-in phone call only, while other people have had direct support or virtual support by Zoom,” says Mr Egan.

“The survey tells us that people with complex or more severe disabilities cannot access remote support so they will need to be supported in a safe, face to face manner.”

Mr Egan says therapy staff should be moved back to their original posts and begin virtual therapy sessions with parents and children with disabilities immediately.

"The possibility of a summer programme for children with disabilities is being examined by the departments of Health and Children and  Education and Skills.

"We would ask that this is completed and communicated to parents as soon as possible. This programme needs to be inclusive of all children with disabilities.”

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