Dáil debates

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Services for People with Disabilities: Statements


2:15 pm

Christopher O'Sullivan (Cork South West, Fianna Fail)

I understood we had four minutes each. I will have words with Deputy Flaherty later. I thank the Minister of State. I commend the Minister of State on the passion she has brought this role. It is clearly an area she is incredibly passionate about and she has started off in the right vein. The reversal of the €20 million cut was widely welcomed by service users and voluntary groups. Today's announcement of funding of €7.8 million for early assessments has been welcomed by everyone I have spoken to.

Every sector has its issues. Like Deputy Flaherty, I wish to discuss voluntary groups and services for people of all abilities. There is an issue with the recruitment and retention of staff. CoAction West Cork is an incredible facility that provides services for 200 adults and 800 children of a variety of abilities throughout west Cork. It is a phenomenal service. I have visited the centre in my home town of Clonakilty on numerous occasions, including once as mayor of County Cork. It was an uplifting experience. I received a warm welcome and interacted with service users. To see the interaction between staff and service users, the supports they got and the relationships developed was incredible. It was phenomenal to see at first hand the importance of the service. Like other Deputies, I would love to extend an invite to the Minister of State to visit the Clonakilty service, and other CoAction centres dotted throughout west Cork to see the incredible service they provide.

CoAction, like many other organisations that have been mentioned, is under pressure in respect of the recruitment and retention of staff, which comes down to the old chestnut of section 39 workers who have not had their pay restored in line with their counterparts in section 38 organisations. A perfect example of what is happening at the moment is the fact that, due to Covid, CoAction is slightly realigning its service. It is moving towards a hub model and has 16 or 17 hubs dotted throughout west Cork. It will have to recruit approximately 30 staff to provide that service. The bottom line is that they cannot because staff are going to the HSE and private nursing homes, and are not attracted to the terms available in CoAction.

That needs to change because at the end of the day it is service users who suffer. That is who we are looking out for here and if we can recruit and bolster staff and increase the number of health professionals and other staff in CoAction, we will see phenomenal results. I ask the Minister of State to please come to west Cork and see for herself what is happening.


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