Written Answers. - Personal Assistance.

Noel Treacy

Ceist:

169 Mr. N. Treacy asked the Minister for Health if he will provide resources to health boards in order to direct them to engage personal assistants for people who need assistance due to their health status; if this has been included in the service plans to the health boards for 1996; the directives which have been given in this regard; the amount of money being made available; the method by which the scheme will be administered; his views on such a scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16722/96]

Michael Smith

Ceist:

190 Mr. M. Smith asked the Minister for Health if he will publish the cost analysis carried out by Dr. Eamon O'Shea, University College Galway, and its recommendations regarding the services for independent living. [16225/96]

Tony Killeen

Ceist:

198 Mr. Killeen asked the Minister for Health the plans, if any, he has to establish a permanent personal assistance fund for people with disabilities. [16308/96]

Tony Killeen

Ceist:

201 Mr. Killeen asked the Minister for Health the action, if any, he proposes to take arising from a recommendation of an advisory group to his Department that funding of £5 million be provided for personal assistance services to people with physical disabilities. [16352/96]

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

211 Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Health his policy in relation to funding for the employment of personal assistants for people with serious physical handicaps in order to allow them to live life to their full potential; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16430/96]

Joe Walsh

Ceist:

223 Mr. J. Walsh asked the Minister for Health if he will give a concrete commitment to establish an independent living fund (details supplied) in County Galway in the 1997 budget; if the findings of the independent cost-benefit analysis of personal assistance will be published; and if the seven National College of Industrial Relations students will have their personal assistance reinstated immediately. [16582/96]

Limerick East): I propose to take Questions Nos. 169, 190, 198, 201, 211 and 223 together.

The establishment of an independent living fund has been proposed to me by the Centre for Independent Living as a means of funding a personal assistance service to enable people with disabilities to live independently in the community. The development of a personal assistance service was examined by the Advisory Group on Personal Assistance. While it did not recommend the establishment of an independent living fund, it recommended that funding of a personal assistance service should be considered in the context of the development of support services generally for people with disabilities.

I have informed the centre that this issue is being addressed by the Review Group on Services for People with Physical and Sensory Disabilities whose report is expected very shortly at which time I will make a decision about the personal assistance service as part of my overall policy for the appropriate development of support services for people with disabilities. In the meantime, I intend to continue the current level of funding for the existing personal assistance service.
The provision of personal assistance services to the seven students of the National College of Industrial Relations disabilities studies course was funded by FÁS and the European Social Fund. This course has now ended. Four of the seven who participated in this course currently have a personal assistance service. In relation to the other three, where vacancies arise in the existing service these are filled on the basis of need.
The cost-benefit analysis referred to is a cost-benefit study of personal assistance services. This study, which was completed last year, was commissioned by the Advisory Group on Personal Assistance Services to help establish the total costs of personal assistance services and to assess their total benefits. The study arose solely in the context of providing the group with background research data on this services to enable it to reach the decisions in its report. It was not intended by the group to publish it separately.