Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Department of Health
Disability Support Services
667. To ask the Minister for Health if he has considered the position of school leavers with intellectual disabilities who have lost out on a large part of their final year in special schools and are now facing an uncertain future in view of the fact internships and placements which would often be available to them after school have not yet been organised due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11353/20]
As part of the overall effort to contain the spread of COVID-19 and in line with public health advice, day service locations have been closed since March. However priority service users have been identified in each CHO, and individualised supports continue to be provided to many people in alternative models particularly for these individuals with higher support needs, through alternative means such as via online support and/or regular telephone contact with families. Health and social care responses to the current public health emergency are under continuing review, including specific measures such as these to support vulnerable people.
The resumption of adult day services is currently being considered by my Department and the HSE as part of broader planning to prepare for the resumption of non-COVID-19 community and social care services in the current environment, and in line with public health guidance. My Department and the HSE has established a Joint Working Group to develop a plan for Community Capacity.
The HSE is finalising plans to re-establish vital non-covid supports and services. This includes very careful and detailed work on the part of the Disability Sector with national guidance and will result in directing how all funded agencies can deliver services on a medium to long-term basis. Community Healthcare Organisations and Section 38/39 agencies continue to work together at a regional level in order to plan and co-ordinate efforts. Considering the very serious nature of this pandemic and the vulnerability of people with disabilities as a care group, any plans to safely commence all disability services and supports must comply with guidance developed by the National Public Surveillance Centre in the HSE.
The HSE has now developed a number of important guidance documents to assist disability services: the Framework for Resumption of Adult Day Services and Reshaping Disability Services From 2020 & Beyond. The HSE and disability service providers, where identified, will continue to communicate with school leavers and their families to plan and organise for a transition to day services in line with public health guidance.
These documents are available at the website linked below.