All day service locations with the exception of those being utilised as COVID-19 isolation or testing centres have reopened since August. Service users that usually received their supports from these locations are now either receiving supports at another location or receiving outreach or home-based supports.
Day services re-opened at 39% capacity at service locations throughout August and early September, and by end of November this had increased to 51%. The combination of supports in the location, outreach supports, and remote supports provides an overall quantum of support to service users of over 60% at the end of November. For the duration of the COVID-19 emergency day service capacity is reduced, this is due to the physical limitations of the buildings available, the lack of mainstream community activities, and the continued restrictions imposed by social distancing guidance. Many people with disabilities have underlying health conditions, and as the threat of COVID-19 remains, unfortunately so too does the need for these restrictions.
Guidance published by the HSE on 6 January 2021 confirms that day services continue to be prioritised and delivered subject to a revised Risk Assessment, Public Health Guidance and direction. People with complex medical/ clinical related needs are to remain at home and where possible, to receive the same number of hours support in the home as they had been in receipt of pre-Christmas in day service locations. Providers have been asked to reduce contacts via hubs/bubbles, with dedicated staff for dedicated service users, where possible. Where families are uncomfortable with allowing their family member to return to a day service location, a package of support within available resources will be agreed with the service user and family.
As this is a service matter I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the deputy directly, as soon as possible.