Tuesday, 29 June 2021
Department of Health
Day services re-opened at 39% capacity at service locations throughout August and early September of 2020, and by end of January 2021 this had increased to 51%. The combination of supports in the location, outreach supports, and remote supports provides an overall quantum of support to service users of over 60% at the end of January. The increase in day service capacity was supported by additional funding of €30 million provided in Budget 2021 to increase capacity in buildings and provide extra staff. This funding provided an increase in day services by an average of one day a week for 14,940 people against September 2020 service levels.
For the duration of the COVID-19 emergency day service capacity is reduced, this is due to the physical limitations of the buildings available, the lack of mainstream community activities, and the continued restrictions imposed by social distancing guidance. Many people with disabilities have underlying health conditions, and as the threat of COVID-19 remains, unfortunately so too does the need for these restrictions.
The vaccination process for staff and service users is well underway across day services, and all service providers should now be delivering a minimum of 60% of pre-COVID levels of location-based supports. For those in residential services, currently their day service supports are largely being provided in their residence, however some service users have returned to their day service location, and it is now expected that all residential service users that received their day service at a location pre-COVID should begin to resume location-based day service supports.
The HSE is in the process of establishing the vaccination status of all staff and service users in day services. Once established, the HSE will engage with Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) on what further easing of restrictions can appropriately be applied to day services. Those attending day services have been vaccinated as part of cohort 4, people aged 16-69 years and at very high risk of severe COVID-19 disease. The administration of the second vaccine dose for this cohort began in the week beginning May 10th and is expected to be complete by early July.
The IPC guidance are kept under constant review and updates will be provided in the months ahead on further restoration of day services.