Dáil debates

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Services for People with Disabilities: Statements


1:45 pm

Rose Conway-Walsh (Mayo, Sinn Fein)

Most of my contribution is confined to transport. Coming from a rural area, the Minister of State will really understand the situation with transport. I refer to the issue of multiple schools using the same transport. Parents are asking me why there are different rules for other people who are being transported than for really vulnerable children. I am really in fear of one of those children catching Covid-19 and it having a detrimental impact on those children. This needs to be sorted out as a matter of urgency. I know all of the other issues are urgent but that is particularly urgent.

Transport and access to adult day services are terrible because it is almost worse to have those services and yet to tell people they cannot go to them because there is no transport. Transport has fallen between the stools and nobody will take responsibility for it. There are solutions to it because great work is being done by Rural Link and so on. If the HSE would instruct or enable Rural Link to be able to do this job, that would solve the issue. It needs to be fixed because people in Achill trying to access services in Castlebar are being told they cannot access them. These parents and the people themselves have been fighting for years just to get into the limited services that were already available.

I want to ask the Minister of State about the mechanical physical restraints that are being used, particularly for autistic adults. I am talking about the buckle body system. I understand that everybody, including the workers, needs to feel safe but I am concerned about situations where there are workers in the front of a vehicle holding a key and the service user is in the back of that vehicle. What would happen in the event of an accident if someone did not have time to get back with the key?

A lot of the workers in these services are being asked to use their own vehicles. Two issues arise there. First, they have to pay the insurance and they will not get the job unless they have the vehicles. Second, with Covid-19, when workers are using their own cars, surely it cannot then be safe for vulnerable adults to use the same vehicles during the day and then go home and have those vehicles be used for the family or whoever? Surely there must be real dangers there of the spread of Covid-19? Will the Minister of State look at the issue of workers using their own vehicles?

There are many other issues I wanted to raise but I am running out of time. Could the Minister of State confirm the situation with respite care for me? What are the rules across the board with that? Nobody stood out and clapped for carers and there are carers who desperately need some day-time and night-time respite care to be able to continue caring for the people they love and have cared for over years. They just need a break so I ask the Minister of State to sort that out.


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