I propose to take Questions Nos. 749, 762, 800 and 863 together.
Day services for adults with disabilities provide a network of support for over 25,000 people who have a wide spectrum of need, ranging from those with severe and profound disabilities who are likely to need long-term specialist service provision to people with lower support needs and greater potential for community participation and inclusion. The HSE, through its Occupational Guidance Service, works with schools, service providers, service users and families to identify the needs of young people with disabilities who are due to complete their second level education. The aim is to address the needs of individuals in the following ways:
Health-funded rehabilitative training;
Health-funded day services;
FÁS-funded vocational training;
Approval to extend education placement for a specified time.
The HSE has received requests for 669 places for school leavers and 394 places in respect of those who have completed their rehabilitative training in 2012; to date 514 school leavers and 321 RT progressions have been matched with a suitable service. This year, disability services are required to cater for demographic pressures such as new services for school leavers from within their existing budgets. In previous years demographic funding was provided to meet this need. 2012 budgets have been reduced by 3.7% and the moratorium on staff recruitment gives rise to additional challenges in service provision.
Each year a number of young people will only require a place on a part-time basis. However, in terms of current capacity within the system, it has only been feasible to offer a part-time place to some young people who require a full-time service. The HSE Managers and Disability Agencies are currently finalising the numbers in this context and the associated cost for those still requiring either a full-time or a part-time place. Service providers and the HSE have come together under the auspices of National Consultative Forum to identify how the needs of individuals who require day and rehabilitative training places can be responded to within available resources.
The National Consultative Forum recognises that the key to ensuring that available resources for people with disabilities are used to best effect is through constructive collaboration between non-statutory providers and the HSE. There are already many excellent examples of collaborative working between service providers and the HSE in innovatively responding to the needs of individuals.
The HSE and disability service providers have commenced the process of notifying families if a place is available or if the individual is to be placed on a waiting list. As part of the communication plan letters were issued to parents/guardians from the 10th July, either confirming the provision of a service or advising that work is ongoing in relation to identifying a service. HSE Managers and Disability Agencies are currently finalising this process. Where a service has yet to be identified parents/guardians are being advised that:
The young person would be placed on a waiting list;
Parents/Guardians would be kept informed of progress; and
The HSE and Disability Agency understood that this was a challenging time for families and would continue to explore all available options.
Every effort is being made to achieve an equitable and sustainable outcome to address the current difficulties in providing an appropriate service to each individual. However, the Health Service as a whole has to operate within the parameters of funding available to it and given the current economic environment this has become a major challenge for all stakeholders, including the HSE, voluntary service providers, services users and their families.