Almost nine years ago, the Time to Move on from Congregated Settings Report identified approximately 4,000 people with disabilities living in congregated type settings. Many were old style institutions, with ten or more people. Some living in hospital ward or dormitory settings.
It’s also important to note that Article 19(a) of the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ratified in 2018 by the Irish Government, states that people with disabilities should be able to choose where, and with whom, they live.
Time to move on is the governing strategy that seeks to ensure housing arrangements, including those moving from congregated settings, should be in ordinary neighbourhoods (dispersed housing) in the community, with individualised supports (supported living) designed to meet their individual needs and wishes.
It is about enabling people to “live ordinary lives in ordinary places”. At the end of 2019, there were circa 2,000 people remaining in congregated settings, while the majority 6,400 live in group homes in the community. 52 people have completed their transition so far this year, however It is likely that the impact of COVID-19 will be reflected in the year-end total.
Today, people are being supported to live lives of their choice out in the community. Several congregated settings have closed fully and many more have closed specific units within the centres.
Thoughtful planning, capacity building work with stakeholders and sharing the learning across services is enabling meaningful person-centred planning and transitions that are sustainable.
As the numbers in the large settings continues to fall, the people still remaining in these services have access to better living conditions and share with fewer people
While the pace of change has been slow in some services, there is momentum and progress is being made.
The Programme for Government commits to continue with the successful decongregation programme and complete a further move of more people with disabilities from congregated settings to homes in the community, with the necessary supports. It is only fair and right for the remaining residents that people achieve independent and community living.
As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the deputy directly, as soon as possible.