I propose to take Questions Nos. 216 and 250 together.
I wish to draw the Deputy's attention to the report of the Task Force on Personalised Budgets, which I published on 17 July 2018. The report is available on the Department of Health website. The report sets out how personalised budgets could work as a funding mechanism for people with a disability, providing them with greater choice and control over the services and supports they receive.
The Task Force, having reviewed the national and international research evidence and consulted with service users and their families, recommended that the Department of Health and the HSE should establish demonstration projects to test the delivery of personalised budgets with a view to identifying the best approach to the wider roll-out of these payment models following the initial demonstration phase.
My colleague the Minister for Health has given his full support to the Report’s recommendations and the Government has approved the development of these demonstration projects to test the models identified in the Report of the Taskforce, as outlined in the Task Force recommendation. Work has already begun on a number of actions and funding of €1.3 million has been secured from the Department of Health budget for the set up and administration costs of demonstration projects.
The Department of Health, NDA and the HSE are in the process of designing demonstration projects, as recommended by the Task Force on Personalised Budgets. Selection criteria for inclusion in the demonstration projects have not yet been finalised. The Department’s website will be kept updated with information on the roll out of the demonstration projects as it becomes available.
The introduction of personalised budgets represents a fundamental shift in the delivery of services for people with disabilities and presents very significant operational and procedural challenges to the HSE and service providers as it has done in other jurisdictions.
In light of these challenges, the Task Force has, from the outset, narrowed its focus to HSE funded disability services for adults with the intention that learnings from this cohort can inform the future roll-out of personalised budgets. The Task Force Report highlights the breadth of issues to be addressed in the initial demonstration sites and the substantial preparatory work needed.
I am satisfied that the preferred option is to continue with demonstration projects focussed on adult services in the first instance.