Thursday, 24 January 2019
Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters
Respite Care Services Availability
I welcome the Minister of State to the House and thank her for taking time out of her busy schedule to attend this morning. I will discuss the important issue of the suspension of much needed respite services at Annalee View respite centre in Cootehill, County Cavan. As I am sure the Minister of State can imagine, this is causing great hardship to the many families in counties Cavan and Monaghan who depend greatly on this service.
This issue demonstrates the clear lack of respite services to cater for families in need in counties Monaghan and Cavan. I thank the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy Finian McGrath, who attended a meeting with the families arranged by my colleague, Deputy Brendan Smith. I sincerely hope that something positive comes out of that meeting. I also recognise and commend the families of the individuals affected by the suspension. They have organised into a lobbying group to try to address this issue. I understand the Annalee View facility is out of bounds for families and has been for a number of months. As a result, they have not been given any facility to allow respite for themselves or the loved ones for whom they care. As I said, this issue shines a light on the chronic lack of respite services. It also highlights the need for a separate respite facility for children in order that we would have a designated centre for adults and another for children.
Family carers, adults and child dependants depend greatly on and look forward to the all too short break they get in respite facilities. Unfortunately, they have not been able to get a break for some time. One family member told me that the family had been waiting for two and a half years to get into the system. Given the high care needs of some of the individuals in question, it is disappointing to learn that it takes so long for them to enter the system. I am sure the Minister of State will agree that is simply not good enough. I understand a number of buildings are lying idle on the St. Davnet's complex in Monaghan town. The option of using these buildings to provide a temporary or even a more long-term solution to the immediate problem should be explored.
These hardworking, decent people in the Cavan and Monaghan area who provide much love, care and attention on a 24-7 basis deserve much better. The least we can do is provide them with a basic respite service whenever it is needed. I urge the Minister of State to ask the Minister of State, Deputy Finian McGrath, to treat this issue as a matter of urgency because the individuals in question need a break. I hope the Minister of State, Deputy Finian McGrath, will find a solution to this problem as soon as possible.
I am taking this Commencement matter on behalf of the Minister of State, Deputy Finian McGrath. I thank Senator Gallagher for raising this important issue and giving me an opportunity to outline the position in relation to the provision of respite services in counties Cavan and Monaghan. This Government's ongoing priority is the safeguarding of vulnerable people in the care of the health service. We are committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives. Respite services are an important part of the range of services supporting people with disabilities and their families.
The need for increased respite services is acknowledged and the HSE continues to work with all service providers to explore various ways of responding to this need in line with the budget available. In 2018, there was a significant improvement in respite services. An additional €10 million was provided to fund 12 new respite houses. That is one in each HSE community healthcare area, as well as an additional three houses in the greater Dublin area in response to the very high demand for respite from this area. These additional houses are providing additional respite for families who need it. Ten houses have opened to date, with the remaining two scheduled to open shortly. When fully operational, this will provide 19,000 extra overnights and 2,520 home-sharing nights annually. As part of its ongoing service provision, this year the HSE will provide more than 182,500 respite nights and 32,662 day respite sessions to families in need across the country. I am informed by the HSE that respite services within Cavan and Monaghan disability services are currently provided as follows: Steadfast House has the capacity to provide 1,008 adult respite beds per year; Annalee View Respite Centre has the capacity to provide 910 adult respite beds per year; and St. Christopher’s Disability Centre, on average, provides 730 adult respite beds per year.
Annalee View Respite Centre, Cootehill, County Cavan can accommodate five service users at a time - three bedrooms upstairs and two downstairs. It provides alternative respite weeks between child and adult service users with an intellectual and-or physical disability. The number of adult service users continually increases as service users transfer from child to adult services, therefore, this impacts on the level of respite existing service users receive. In addition, a number of service users have associated mobility needs which means they can only access downstairs bedrooms. This, too, affects the level of respite they receive.
Respite services in Annalee were recently restricted due to the needs of one person. However, the restriction is now lifted and the service has returned to normal capacity.
We are acutely aware that families need support to care for their loved ones. The Minister of State, Deputy Finian McGrath, recently met with a group of parents from the Cavan-Monaghan area to listen to their concerns and to discuss respite services. I want to assure the House that the Government is committed to providing a range of accessible respite care supports for people with a disability and their families. I will respond again when the Senator has concluded.
I thank the Minister of State for the response. As I said, I acknowledge that the Minister of State, Deputy Finian McGrath, met with the families in a meeting organised by my colleague, Deputy Brendan Smith. There is clearly a need for respite services, and these families are determined that they will not go away until such time as they see an adequate service available to them. The Minister of State might inform the Minister of State, Deputy Finian McGrath, that they are determined to seek what is a very basic need for respite services for the people they love and for whom they care. I and other colleagues will ensure that happens, hopefully sooner rather than later.
I thank the Senator again. I certainly will speak to the Minister of State, Deputy Finian McGrath, regarding the concerns he has raised. I emphasise again the importance of respite services. My family has used respite services in the past for my parents. It is very important that we reach out to families because they are doing an extraordinary amount of work, much of which cannot be valued in monetary terms. It is important that we allow families have that respite, even an overnight stay. The Minister of State, Deputy Finian McGrath, understands that need and the difficulties being experienced. He continues to appeal for more funding, which in many ways will open up other services within communities. In terms of the issue the Senator raised, if somebody is waiting two and a half years for the opportunity to have respite, that is far too long. I will relay that message to the Minister of State, Deputy Finian McGrath, who may revert to the Senator on it.