As Minister of State for Disabilities I was pleased to ratify the UNCRPD for Ireland in April of last year, 2018. The Convention provides that people with disabilities should have the same rights as everyone else and should be provided with the practical supports to make that aspiration a reality.
It requires us to change our approach to services for people with disabilities by putting the person’s civil and human rights first and putting the resources in place to that end. Ratifying the Convention offers us an opportunity to reassess our attitudes to people with disabilities and to place a renewed focus on their place in society, to rebalance the right of people with disabilities to make decisions for themselves, rather than have decisions made for them. The Optional Protocol will be ratified following the completion of the first reporting cycle under the Convention, which I am informed by my officials in the Department of Justice and Equality will be in the next two years or so.
In the context of health services, this year we will spend some €1.9bn on services for people with a disability. We will continue to improve services and increase supports for people with disabilities, with a particular focus on supports at key transition points such as going to school, progressing to further training or education, or moving into a new home.
In 2019 our disability health services will provide residential services to around 8,500 people with disabilities at approximately 1,100 locations. We now have less than 2,200 people with a disability living in congregated settings. A further 160 people are expected to move to community living in 2019, as we prioritise the moving of people from old style institutions into modern community living homes. An extra €10m provided last year has delivered 12 new dedicated respite houses, and the provision of alternative respite services to over 2,000 children and adults.
This year, the HSE expects to provide over 182,000 respite nights and 32,662 respite day sessions. 1.63m PA hours for 2,535 people and just under 3.08m home support hours for 8,094 people.
The HSE also expects to provide 90 new residential emergency places and day service supports for at least 1,500 young people leaving school/rehab training. 100 additional therapy posts were secured as part of Budget 2019, and these will be used to address delays in conducting Assessments of Need.
In addition, the Department of Health is continuing to progress Heads of Bill to provide legislative clarity and procedural safeguards in regard to deprivation of liberty. In developing its approach, the Department is aiming to strike the right balance between providing the appropriate levels of protection for individuals on the one hand and ensuring that the approach is practical and workable on the other.
The Department continues to address a number of complex legal and policy issues which have arisen during the drafting process and every effort is being made to progress this legislation as quickly as possible.