Closure of Respite Services

30th June, 2010

Respite Services

I raised the issue of the closure of respite services provided by the Daughters of Charity in an adjournment debate last night. I am doing all I can to help with this terrible issue. It was raised by Enda with the Taoiseach this morning.

The below is the response that I received from the Government:-

“I reply on behalf of my colleague, the Minister for Health and Children. I thank Senator Donohoe for raising this matter and I am pleased to take this opportunity to outline the position relating to the 2010 funding for the Daughters of Charity services at St. Vincent’s Centre, Navan Road, Dublin 7.
The Government is very much aware of the valuable contribution the voluntary sector, including the Daughters of Charity, makes to the provision of services to people with intellectual disabilities. By way of illustration, funding of €900 million was provided to 281 intellectual disability service providers in 2009. With regard to the Daughters of Charity services, the HSE provided more than €110 million to the Daughters of Charity in 2009. This is an increase of €25 million since 2005.

This sustained level of additional investment reflects the significant growth and development in the Daughters of Charity services in the recent past. The HSE is aware of the challenges service providers, including the Daughters of Charity, are experiencing and the particular difficulties facing all health services in 2010. In this context, it is vital that all service providers, including the voluntary sector, work creatively and co-operatively to ensure that the maximum level of services are maintained for service users within the funding resources available.

The HSE is aware of the challenges the reduction in allocations will present to organisations in ensuring they meet the needs of service users and in planning for emergencies that arise throughout the year. It is recognised that maintaining service levels within available resources will require significant levels of co-operation, change, flexibility and creativity. The HSE will continue to work in partnership with the voluntary service providers in dealing with issues that arise from funding allocations, to ensure the needs of service users are prioritised and addressed.

Disability service providers were asked to submit their plans for the maintenance of service levels within available resources taking the following into consideration: items of expenditure which do not immediately and directly impact on front-line services; where rationalisation can be effected; the manner in which services are delivered; opportunities to reduce costs by sharing services and/or activities with other agencies; the cost of back office administration, all other unnecessary costs and rationalisation of general management structures. The HSE will continue to work with the voluntary service providers to streamline costs and identify areas where efficiencies can be achieved without impacting on front-line services.

This Government remains committed to the long-term goals and objectives of the national disability strategy. Our commitment in the area of disability has been consistent. Overall approximately €1.6 billion is spent annually by the health service on specialist health and personal social services and supports for people with a disability. Despite the current economic climate, the HSE’s national service plan for 2010 makes provision for additional funding of €19.5 million to meet the anticipated growth in demand for disability services in 2010.

There has been continued expansion in the availability of respite support services. These services have grown significantly in recent years. More than 4,599 people avail of respite services funded by the HSE. This service has supported people to continue living with their families and in their communities. The Government is very much aware of the importance of respite service provision for the families of children and adults with disabilities, and is concerned to ensure that front-line services are protected as far as possible.”

I then made the following plea. I, of course, got no response.

“I ask the Minister to pass on my desperate request to the HSE that it meet the Daughters of Charity on the Navan Road and do all it can to ensure that services are not withdrawn in a week and a half. The Minister said the Government is doing all that is possible to maintain front-line services. These services will go and, to the best of my knowledge, the HSE and the Daughters of Charity have not met since this announcement was made. I ask the Minister to convey that to the HSE so we can try to avoid a desperate situation.”