Under the Health Act 2004 the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services, including residential services for people with a disability. Charges for those in receipt of long-stay residential care are governed by Regulations made under section 53 of the Health Act 1970 and supported by national implementation guidelines published by the HSE.
In May of this year I launched National Standards for Residential Services for Children and Adults with Disabilities. The Standards seek to ensure that residential services have all the necessary safeguards and protections for people with disabilities as well as ensuring that the unique and complex needs of each individual person are met in an appropriate manner by service providers and their staff.
In relation to access to financial accounts of service users, the standards specifically state that each person should be supported to take responsibility for their own financial affairs. The standards request service providers to ensure service users have easy access to personal monies and control their own financial affairs in accordance with their wishes. In addition, where service users need support to manage their financial affairs, they may nominate a person to be entrusted with this responsibility. Nominated persons are required to keep an account of all monies spent and if such persons are also staff members, they are also accountable to the person in charge as well as the service user concerned.
The regulations required to underpin these standards in law are now complete and the scheme of registration and inspection of residential services for people with disabilities is expected to commence in the coming weeks.