Thursday, 10 September 2020
Services for People with Disabilities: Statements
Ruairi Ó Murchú (Louth, Sinn Fein)
Okay. I congratulate the Minister of State on her appointment and wish her well in her endeavours. Like many other issues in the State, we would like to start from a different place. We all know the difficulties that faced family carers prior to Covid, such as the requirement for respite and, in some cases, residential services, which were not always necessarily available. The history of the State in recent years has involved the outsourcing of some of those services.
I would like to bring to the attention of the Minister of State an issue that came up about residential services in County Louth. They have been told that some of the people who stayed with them had tried to access new dental care services and discovered that the dental treatment services scheme, DTSS, they had used is no longer being operated by their dental providers. We had heard about this happening to medical card holders, but this affects a specific cohort of people with intellectual disabilities living in residential settings.
They had been told that Louth community care services would be able to deal with them. I received an answer from Louth community care services, which came directly from the HSE, in which they indicated that owing to a backlog, resource issues and additional difficulties they are experiencing, they would not be able to deal with anything other than medical emergencies. This needs to be addressed across the board as regards dental services because it is deeply worrying. This cohort of people and their families have enough difficulties and do not need the added burden of having to pay for dental services or being unable to access such services.
I have spoken to a number of family members who are delighted that services have opened up. These are people who use day services such as those provided by the Venegas Centre in Dundalk, which is operated by the St. John of God Foundation. The families greatly welcome the opening of services and are now getting home based services. Many of those who previously had 30 hours of service per week are now getting between ten and 12 hours of service each week. While the situation is much better than it was a couple of months ago, the issue needs to be addressed. I hope the Government, when it sets out its nine-month plan, in which the Minister of State will obviously play a part, will take this into account and provide a roadmap that will include a service for these people that will be able to operate in the Covid-19 world in which we now live. These people require services. They are providing a great service not only for their families and family members but also the State by saving it a large amount of money and resources. We need to play our part. If there is a requirement for further resources, whether for buildings or staffing, they need to be provided as soon as possible. If the Minister of State answers those two questions, I would be very grateful.