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 through health-funded rehabilitative - life skills - training; health-funded day services; FÁS-funded vocational training; and approval to extend education placements for a specified time.
The demand for services for school-leavers continues to grow. A total of 695 school-leavers were identified as requiring supports or services in 2012 and a similar number is expected in 2013. Budgetary constraints and the moratorium on staff recruitment mean that service provision continues to be a challenge in the current environment. While the HSE makes every effort to provide day services or rehabilitative training places to school-leavers with special needs, this has always been dependent on the availability and location of appropriate places coupled with the needs of the individual school-leaver.
There is evidence that an accelerated move towards a new model of individualised, person-centred service provision in the community can help to achieve efficiencies. The HSE has established an implementation project team to oversee the implementation of the recommendations in the report of the national working group for the review of HSE-funded adult day services. The report, published in February 2012 and entitled New Directions, proposes that day services take the form of a menu of 12 individualised, outcome-focused supports that will provide adults with disabilities with the support necessary to live a life of their choosing in accordance with their wishes, aspirations and needs. The guiding principle is that supports will be tailored to individual need and will be flexible, responsive and person centred.