The HSE’s report “Time to Move on from Congregated Settings – A Strategy for Community Inclusion”, (2011) proposes a new model of support in the community by moving people from institutional settings to the community, over a seven year time frame. The plan will be rolled out at a regional and local level and will involve full consultation.
In terms of housing, the Department of Health and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government are working in collaboration to support the transition of people with a disability from institutions to social housing in the community under the Government's National Housing Strategy for People with Disability 2011 to 2016.
The HSE Social Care Operational Programme 2015 set a target of moving 150 people from institutions into the community in 2015. I am pleased to note that significant progress has been made in achieving this goal as 137 individuals had moved from congregated settings at the end of December 2015. I understand that the majority of this number, moved to community placements and others moved to alternative appropriate accommodation, including moving in with family and moving into long term nursing home care, in line with their personal care plans.
All such moves require careful care planning by service providers in association with clients, families and communities. The HSE has advised me that there are a number of factors which meant that fewer people than planned moved to the community in 2016. These included:
- a shortage of suitable housing
- difficulties in accessing Capital Assistance Funding (CAS) from the Department of the Environment
- inability of service providers to support individuals with capacity issues to sign tenancy agreements pending the enactment of ‘Capacity Legislation’,
- inability of some service providers to support transition costs
- changes in family and or personal circumstances.
I am pleased to note that Department of Health officials followed up with the HSE, Department of the Environment and the Housing Agency to resolve problems regarding access for people with disabilities to funding from the Capital Assistance Scheme. Arising from this process, the Department of Health and the Department of the Environment developed new Guidelines under the Capital Assistance Scheme to enable housing associations/service providers to apply for funding to acquire suitable accommodation for people moving from institutions in 2016.
I am assured that HSE and local authorities will continue to work together under the structures set up under the Housing Strategy to inform and guide local housing provision for people with disabilities over the next few years.