Last week, I met with SOS on Callan Road, Kilkenny about the services that it delivers. It was originally founded on the basis of delivering lifelong services of various kinds to people with intellectual disabilities. In recent years, because of the lack of funding and the fact that it is not being paid for the services delivered, the range of services it has and its capacity to deal with different clients who come forward are now under threat. It is unable to provide that lifelong service to its clients. SOS is an extremely good service that works efficiently and well. The manager there, Mr. Francis Coughlan, has done everything in his power to ensure that the money he gets is spread evenly and deals with the issues. At present, he has 50 cases. They are called business cases but they are really cases requesting funding from the Department to satisfy the need of an intellectually-challenged individual. There is no decision from the Department on these cases. In fact, to bring its services to where they were previously and keep them at a standstill would require €1 million. SOS would have to have those 50 cases dealt with immediately, with full funding being granted. These is no respite care for those who use the service and SOS has urgently asked that the Minister would consider providing the funding to have two respite beds available when they are needed for those who are attending that service.
To give the Minister an example I raised with the Taoiseach, a client of that service for 30 years has been in St. Luke's General Hospital since last November. He is medically discharged but there is no place for him within SOS because it cannot provide the funding. The infrastructure and the building are there. It requires immediate funding of €600,000 for that project. The hospital setting is costing nearly €2,000 per day and is inappropriate for the man's needs. He is not getting the services that he requires. His parents are deeply concerned that this is an emerging trend within that organisation that is so well respected and supportive of the parents and the clients. They were deeply concerned and expressed their worry, as the parents or the guardians of the children in care, about who would look after the children when their lives were over. This is a question that has to be answered. Francis Coughlan and SOS deserve a direct reply and response.
The management of the services by the HSE is appalling. It is willing to stand to one side and allow these services to deteriorate and to allow people to be left in inappropriate settings in hospitals.
There is literally no response. When I asked the Taoiseach that morning I was taken aback by the cold way in which he answered the question. I followed him out of the Chamber and gave him a written note about the difficulties facing that individual but I am now talking about the overall plan to provide the life care services required by the clients by SOS. I ask the Minister of State to address the issue comprehensively and to deal with the fact that this man has been in hospital since last November. That is a separate issue but he is a client of SOS.