Tuesday, 11 July 2023
Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters
I welcome the Minister of the State to the House to discuss the issue of Drumlin House and the need for the expansion of services there. We all know about the importance of support services for people with disabilities and their families. Places like Drumlin House are totally committed to providing training and support for people to meet their needs and be the best that they can be. I would like to pay tribute to Breege O’Reilly, the manager, who the Minister of State met when she kindly visited there upon my request some time ago, and the 35 or 40 staff who also work there and are totally dedicated to the 90 or so service users and trainees who use the services at Drumlin House. I know there are many other facilities located throughout Cavan and Monaghan and we are deeply indebted to all the staff who work at them. I am sure the Minister of State would agree. They are totally committed to the work they do to ensure the people they care for can be the best that they can be in their lives. We are very grateful to them for that.
As the Minister of State knows, we have an ever-increasing population, as borne out by the recent census figures, and with that comes pressure for additional services. We all know that Drumlin House - which, as I said, looks after more than 90 service users - is bursting at the seams. They do fantastic work but more space is badly needed to facilitate more people not just there, but in other locations. However, primarily, we are discussing Drumlin House this afternoon.
I understand that as part of the plan the Minister of State is working on, in addition to hoping to expand the services of Drumlin House, she is looking at the possibility of satellites or hubs in different locations throughout Monaghan and Cavan. That is very welcome as well. I would like the Minister of State to expand on her plans with regard to Drumlin House. I know Drumlin House is close to her heart because she said that to me many times when we discussed the work that goes on there. I would be grateful if she could provide an update on the plans for Drumlin House and the expansion of that facility, as well as for other additional facilities that are so badly needed within counties Cavan and Monaghan.
I thank the Senator for raising this important matter. Drumlin House training centre provides rehabilitative training and day services for adults with an intellectual disability, some of whom have autism, physical and sensory disabilities, and complex needs. The service has been one of the main providers of places for school leavers in the past 20 years. The Senator is quite right that we visited it. I got a wonderful reception. I compliment Ms O'Reilly and her staff but I also want to compliment the board. The fact that the Senator is even raising this question to me indicates that we are talking about a progressive organisation that wants to future-proof its building to meet the changing needs of the people in its community. They not only want to look at the building but they want to look at the hubs - the satellites - as they decide how to cater in the community.It has a real understanding of what the new directions model is about, which is leaving nobody behind, and being person-centred. To me, that is so important.
The service has seen the rise in referral numbers and the increasing level of need in recent years, and particularly in 2022. I am familiar with the service, and I am pleased to note that the head of operations, disability services, has confirmed that €80,000 for operating costs for Drumlin House has been approved and is being transferred to community healthcare organisation, CHO, 1 for issuing at the next funding release date. I think that was something that the Senator and I agreed on that day, that it needed a few bob.
On accommodation, the occupational guidance service of HSE's Cavan-Monaghan disability services has alerted Drumlin House management to the fact that the numbers and needs are projected to increase in 2023 and 2024, and will continue year on year thereafter. Drumlin House also provides day service placements for individuals who exit its own rehabilitation. The Senator is right. Currently, it is providing support for 95 day service users, and I know that over the next five years, we are going to see that increase by about another 50 day service users needing access to it. Analysis of post-primary and special school referrals to adult day services indicates a growth in demand for such specialised places over the next five years. Demographic trends indicate that since 2016, the number of school leavers who require a HSE day service has doubled in Cavan and Monaghan.
In order to provide places for future school leavers, a business case has been submitted to the head of service for disability services for a bespoke stand-alone facility at CHO 1, which will ensure that adults requiring intensive day service supports will be provided for. This will meet the needs of the projected numbers of school leavers who have been identified for the years from 2023 to 2028, which is approximately 50 children. The Drumlin House proposal is for capital development of its current main site, together with a plan of what it would be seeking to develop in its place. The proposal also details the school leaver projections. From 2024 to 2028, it has been estimated that 50 new attendee placements will be required for individuals leaving the Holy Family School, Cootehill, a significant number of whom will choose to attend Drumlin House if there is capacity. This proposal was submitted to the national HSE and CHO 1 disability services last April.
The wonderful part about me moving from the Department of Health to the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth is that I have my own budgetary line when it comes to capital. I have just left a meeting and it is important not to be simply firefighting all the time within the area of disability, whereby parents feel that they are forgotten about all the time. What has been presented there at local level - exiting primary, going into post-primary, engaging back with the HSE, forecasting, knowing what we need to provision for, building in advance, meeting the needs of - that is how one gets that into the capital plan. That is my understanding.
My understanding also is that the cost of it is around €4.5 million. The necessary property transactions application forms have been submitted to HSE estates nationally, and a decision is awaited. This would provide a high-support facility and would ensure that appropriate environmental accommodation will be designed and planned to meet the needs of adults.
That is great news, and I know that when the Minister of State was down there, she was very impressed with it. She said that she took away learnings from that visit and that she would be back with positive news. I am delighted with the news she has given to us this afternoon. She has kept her word, and there is no surprise there when it comes to that. She is totally dedicated to her post and I compliment her on the work that she is doing. I am delighted for the people in Drumlin House and for the service users that there are plans for its expansion. As the Minister of State stated, it is important that we plan for the future in the knowledge that the numbers are on the increase. That is great news today and I thank the Minister of State sincerely for it.
I thank the Senator. It is also important to note that Ms Edel Quinn in CHO 1 is working closely with Ms Breege O'Reilly, and working locally with the Cavan-Monaghan disability service leads in the HSE to ensure that we have a building that is fit-for-purpose for the people in the area. They are working to ensure that we can build up the hubs and the satellites but also to make sure that we modernise and meet the needs of the young and not-so-young adults in order that it is a fit-for-purpose, bespoke unit. It is on our capital plan, and I have no doubt that Senator Gallagher, along with his colleagues, will ensure that it will get a fair hearing and make its way to the capital plan for 2024.