Thursday, 14 July 2022
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
I am responding to this matter on behalf of the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy Rabbitte. The Deputy highlighted a difficult case and it is important the issue of access to therapies and respite be resolved. The Government recognises how important respite can be for relieving pressure and enhancing the quality of life of families, particularly due to the impact the absence of respite service provision can have on other services being delivered. It is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities that will empower them to live their lives and provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose.
Regarding the specific issue of respite provision raised by the Deputy, the HSE is aware of the issues related to access for children in Carrigaline Community School. It is a new school established by the National Council for Special Education, NCSE, and the Department of Education. Cork-Kerry Community Healthcare has advised it is engaging with the CDNT with respect to scoping the needs of the children enrolled in the school. I understand the Minister of State, Deputy Rabbitte, has had recent discussions with Cork-Kerry Community Healthcare regarding access to respite and therapy services for children attending the school. There is limited access to children's respite services in Cork at present due to capacity and resource issues. Traditionally, children who attended special schools under the patronage of section 38 or section 39 organisations had access to respite in those agencies. Cork-Kerry Community Healthcare is implementing a more equitable regional respite service for children in Cork with the establishment of a regional respite committee. It has advised the Department that all children attending the relevant CDNTs will be able to make an application under the new process. This is a work in progress and information with regard to how to access the service will issue to stakeholders in the coming weeks. Nevertheless, Cork-Kerry Community Healthcare has advised that respite services are limited with respect to capacity and that access will be based on the prioritised needs of the children and families.
I assure the Deputy the Government remains committed to ensuring increased capacity is built into respite services to support families, help preserve the family unit and support family stability. I do not have a response relating specifically to the posts he mentioned but I will ask the Minister of State to revert to him on the matter.