For Oral Answer on : 07/11/2023
Question Number(s): 45 Question Reference(s): 47470/23
Department: Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Children; Equality; Disability; Integration and Youth the way in which a young college graduate with very severe physical disabilities can secure adequate and appropriate personal assistant support to enable them to become gainfully employed, pay taxes and participate as a fully functioning member of society; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
HSE PA Provision
The HSE’s Personal Assistant (PA) service was developed to provide a service for adults with physical disabilities that enables them to live their lives as independently as possible and take decision making control. The person with the disability either directly employs the PA or is involved in the process of selecting the PA to work with them. The person with the disability determines the support they need and the activities they need support with.
In 2023, approx. 1.8m PA hours will be delivered to over 2,600 adults across the country.
Services are accessed through an application process or through referrals from public health nurses or other community based staff. Individuals’ needs are evaluated against the criteria for prioritisation for the particular services and then decisions are made in relation to the allocation of resources.
Resource allocation is determined by the needs of the individual, compliance with prioritisation criteria, the level of resources available, and is informed by other support services already provided to the person/family.
With regard to the young college graduate with severe physical disabilities seeking to secure personal assistant support, the HSE advises that the young person makes contact, in the first instance, with disability services in their local Community Healthcare Area.
PA Review Group
It is recognised that there are inconsistencies experienced by disabled people in accessing PA supports and limitations in how those supports might be used. In this regard, the HSE has established a PA Review Group to develop a protocol for the eligibility and allocation of personal assistant services based on a universally agreed definition of Personal Assistance, in collaboration with my Department, disabled people and service providers.
The Group’s remit includes conducting a comprehensive review of the current personal assistance services in each Community Healthcare Area, including an assessment of their effectiveness, accessibility, and adequacy in meeting the needs of disabled people. It will also identify and evaluate best practices in personal assistance services from national and international contexts, with a focus on approaches that promote independence, choice, and dignity disabled people.
The HSE is currently seeking expressions of interest of persons with lived experience of PA services to the review group as this will be a critical enabler in developing positive and constructive solutions to changing ways of working and how services are delivered to meet need.
National Disability Inclusion Strategy
In the wider context, my Department is leading discussions at whole of government level to re-examine the scale of ambition and programme of work to be pursued in relation to removing the barriers to employment for persons with disabilities during the ongoing process to develop the next National Disability Inclusion Strategy.