Tuesday, 13 October 2020
Department of Health
Disability Services Provision
503. To ask the Minister for Health the measures being taken to prioritise the full reopening of day care services for adults with an intellectual disability in counties Laois and Offaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30051/20]
As part of the overall effort to contain the spread of COVID-19 and in line with public health advice, disability day service locations closed in March. The HSE began planning for the resumption of adult disability day services in May. A group representative of families, service providers and other relevant stakeholders, including Inclusion Ireland, was convened and tasked with the development of a Resumption Plan. On May 31st the Framework for the Resumption of Adult Disability Day Services was published and the guidance to support this framework was published on July 8th.
The guidance is to enable safe and person-centred disability day service supports to be provided in line with current public health advice and infection control guidance. It is not overly prescriptive in terms of detail as there is a wide diversity of disability in the 19,000 adults that received day service supports and day service locations vary enormously in size and capacity. Of this 19,000, approximately 5,000 people receive a day service as part of their residential placement.
The key overarching elements of managing the risk of infection are:
1. Processes to identify people (service users and staff) with communicable infection (including COVID-19) before they access services/attend work or as soon as possible after they access services/attend work
2. Processes to minimize the risk of spread of infection from people (service users and staff) who access services/attend for work with unrecognized infection (Standard Precautions)
3. Early detection of spread of infection in the service and immediate response to limit harm.
The guidance developed to support the resumption of adult day services also has had to take account of social distancing rules which has meant that there is a reduced number of people in each service location. This means that, when day services re-opened through August and September, they re-opened at 40% capacity. However, the HSE is committed to maximising the support that can be provided within these restrictions. The HSE also plan to capture the detail of the service being provided to each individual over the next few weeks, to get a better understanding of the quantum of service being provided.
On Monday 28th September, Ministers Donnelly and Rabbitte announced that €10 million is being made available in 2020 to support the resumption of day services and enhanced home support services for disability service users.
Of this, €7.5 million will increase disability day services by one day a week for over 14,000 adults. This funding is being drawn down from the National Action Plan on COVID-19. Funding requirements for 2021 will be considered as part of the Estimates process.
In line with the Governments Resilience & Recovery Framework (2020 – 2021), the HSE regards the provision of disability services as essential to maintaining a response to people with a disability, in the same way that schools and creches are. Importantly, Government’s intention is that disability services will remain open at each level of the Resilience and Recovery Framework, subject to public health guidance
As the Deputy's question also pertains to a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to reply to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.