Tuesday, 13 July 2021
Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh - Priority Questions
I am delighted to hear that. This report was completed last November. Many parliamentary questions on the matter have been tabled to the Minister of State by members of the Joint Committee on Disability Matters and other Deputies. The committee itself, various organisations, including the Irish Wheelchair Association, and the Oireachtas disability group and the organisations it represents have all queried the matter with her..
The Minister of State knows better than I that there is a deficit in the area of disability so this news is very welcome and important. I presume the report will help inform preparations for budget 2022. I know the Indecon report comes under the Department of Social Protection rather than the Department of Health but it is another important part of the jigsaw that will indicate the cost of disability in future. I know the indication is that it will be published in the coming months. Will this be considered in the context of the budget?
Prior to having the disability capacity review published, the Government delivered on disability matters over the past 12 months and when we went through the process of budgetary preparedness last year. It is important to provide a recap on what we have delivered. There have been 126 individuals moved from congregated settings and funding was put in place to ensure a total of 102 new residential places, as well as 144 replacements in the community. More than 80% of the backlog of assessment of needs since June 2020 has been delivered. The first programme to tackle the issue of persons with disabilities under 65 in nursing homes is in progress and a full compliment of children's disability network teams are to be in place from the end of this summer. Significant progress has been made in the recruitment of 100 therapists with an additional 85 therapists on top of that. The Government progressed these matters despite the fact that the report has not yet been published. We will continue to progress issues and put disability at the centre of our agenda at all times.
I welcome and acknowledge the work that has been done. There have been significant moves towards a social model of care and away from the health model of care, which is the right way to go. The Minister of State is doing tremendous work in that field. There are, however, some very stark statistics regarding disability. We have the lowest employment rate for people with disabilities in the EU and one of the highest poverty rates. It is certainly higher than average and we are one of the worst five countries in that regard.
The Minister of State mentioned people in nursing homes who are under 65 years of age. There are still approximately 1,300 such individuals. Significant progress is needed to move them from what are totally unsuitable settings and into community-based locations. Another statistic indicates that 0.3% of all people with disabilities access the services of personal assistants. This is vital in order to allow people to live in the community and have the supports they need. In order to move towards community services and supports, we must investment in information technology, housing, transport and education. In order to implement the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, UNCRPD, we must see disability-proofing across all Departments.
I concur completely with the Deputy about disability-proofing across all Departments. As I speak, we are disability-proofing the medical model through the Department of Health. When I move to a new Department dealing with inclusion and equality matters under the Minister, Deputy Roderic O'Gorman, we will reach out to every other Department, including those dealing with education, transport and employment. Disability is not just about medical needs but it is about how a person can access education, do transition planning and ensure that employment can be accessed in order to facilitate independent living with help from housing authorities. I have every faith that this disability capacity review will touch on every Department.