Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
The Community Participation (Disability) (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2019 reached Committee Stage in the previous Seanad, however, the Bill lapsed with the dissolution of the Dáil and Seanad in January 2020. As it was a Private Members Bill, it would be a matter for members to decide how they wish to progress this legislation in the new Dáil and Seanad.
The Government is committed to fully commencing the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 (“the 2015 Act”). The Act provides a modern statutory framework to support decision-making by adults with capacity difficulties. The 2015 Act was signed into law on 30 December 2015 but has not yet been fully commenced. The Act provides for the establishment of new administrative processes and support measures, including the setting up of the Decision Support Service (DSS) within the Mental Health Commission (a body under the Department of Health).
A number of provisions of the 2015 Act were commenced in October 2016 in order to progress the setting up of the Decision Support Service and enable the recruitment of the Director of the DSS. Ms Áine Flynn was appointed Director of the DSS on 2 October 2017. The commencement of Part 8 of the Act, which provides a legislative framework for advance healthcare directives, is a matter for the Minister for Health.
The implementation of the 2015 Act requires that the DSS is fully operational and in a position to offer services including the new decision-making support options. A high-level Steering Group comprising senior officials from my Department, the Department of Health, the Mental Health Commission, the Courts Service and the HSE, together with the Director of the DSS, is overseeing the establishment and commissioning of the DSS and this work is ongoing. The DSS, led by its Director, is working on putting in place the necessary infrastructure to support the full commencement of the Act. The infrastructure required includes, amongst many other elements, ICT capability for the DSS. These preparations are being implemented under the oversight of the Steering Group and will allow for commencement orders for the main operative provisions of the 2015 Act to be made when the necessary preparations have been completed. This will enable the DSS to roll out the new decision-making support options.
My Department has, through the Estimates process, sought and received increased funding in 2021 to allow the DSS to work towards the commencement of services in mid- 2022. In the interim, my Department, in conjunction with the DSS, the Mental Health Commission and other stakeholders have agreed to an implementation plan that anticipates the commencement of DSS services in mid-2022. There are also critical dependencies for the DSS on other organisations, including, for example, the Courts Service, the HSE and the Department of Health amongst others, which need to be delivered in order to achieve this timeline. The Steering Group has been meeting regularly to ensure a coordinated approach to the implementation of this project. In tandem with this work, progress is also being made to finalise the amendments to the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 to streamline the processes envisaged under the 2015 Act and to support the DSS to become operational.
The Disability Act (2005) has been commenced in full except for Part 2 which makes provision for an Assessment of Need. This section was commenced for children aged under the age of 5 in June 2007.
It was intended that the HSE would deliver Assessments of Need under the Disability Act for this age group and the Education for Persons with Special Education Needs Act (2004) (EPSEN) would provide assessments for school going children.
However, as a consequence of a High Court ruling of December 2009, the HSE extended eligibility to all children born after 1st June 2002.
451. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth when legislation will be brought forward for personal assistance services as a right in law, as per the motion unanimously supported by all parties and independents on 29 November 2019. [44204/20]
The area of disability services is a priority area for this Government. To support people with a disability, significant resources have been invested by the health sector in disability services, and the Government has ensured that an additional €100 million is being provided for new disability measures next year under Budget 2021. These measures will include an additional 80,000 personal assistant hours. The 2020 national service plan details that the HSE is seeking to deliver 1.67m hours of Personal Assistant Hours to over 2,550 people.
Ireland ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in 2018 and the obligations arising from the Convention will be met over time. Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCPRD) outlines that State Parties to the Convention shall take effective and appropriate measures to facilitate full enjoyment by persons with disabilities of this right and their full inclusion and participation in the community. The Government is working to ensure that People with Disabilities be allowed to live an independent life of their own choosing, the same as any other person, and this is consistent with the disability reform policy - “Transforming Lives”.
The HSE provides a range of assisted living services including Personal Assistant (PA) services to support individuals to maximise their capacity to live full and independent lives. The Programme for Government agreed to deliver further increased Personal Assistance hours.
The Programme for Government also commits to the development of an implementation plan to co-ordinate implementation of the UNCRPD. This would include how best to ensure that people with disabilities can access the support services, including personal assistance, that they require to participate in their community.