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Choice must be the priority in the care of young people with a disability – O’Dowd

3rd February 2022 - Fergus O'Dowd TD

Young people with a disability must have choice in the care they receive that’s suited to their needs and preference, according to Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd.

Deputy O’Dowd said it is essential that a HSE pilot project which aims to support young people living in nursing homes to transition to homes of their own, must be delivered and rolled out nationally.

Deputy O’Dowd said: “Figures provided to me show there are roughly 1,330 people under 65 years living in nursing homes, 45% of whom are aged 60+ and 20% who are less than 50 years of age.

“This number is very concerning, and the work is ongoing to eliminate the practice of accommodating younger people with serious disabilities in nursing homes, which is also a commitment in the Programme for Government.

“We urgently need to move away from an approach where our younger people are placed in inappropriate settings without choice and do not receive adequate services and supports.

“Last year the Ombudsman found many people under 65 in nursing homes believed their stay was temporary, but found themselves in the same situation years later. All individuals interviewed for his report expressed a wish to live somewhere other than a nursing home but unfortunately, they did not have the opportunity to do so. This is wrong and must change.

“Worryingly, peoples’ lives are being wasted through lack of a consistent and adequate care plan to meet their needs.

“The Ombudsman found the majority of people who were the subject of his report should be supported to remain in or return to the community to live, full, fulfilling and engaged lives.

“Last year, a pilot project started to support 18 people to move from Nursing Home Care to the Community, with a budget of €3 million, which equates to €166,000 per person for direct care support hours.

“Each HSE catchment area is leading the transition of at least two people based on last year’s allocations in the National Service Plan. The HSE has confirmed to me that the CHOs are on track to meet the target for 2021.

“By the end of November, 14 people under 65 living in nursing homes had been supported to move to homes of their choosing in the community.

“The HSE confirmed to me it is it is likely that significant funding will be allocated to this area with a further 63 people planned to move from nursing home settings to homes of their choosing in the community.

“The establishment of a statutory home support scheme is underway to support people to live independently with access to the care they need.

“The HSE is also developing a database of people under 65 who are currently in nursing homes. A mapping exercise will also be carried out to help those younger people transition to the community.

“The project will help determine the overall requirements and costs associated with the transitioning of people from nursing homes.

“As part of this work, it is essential that the HSE, along with service providers, work with and listen to the wishes of the individual and their families to put in place the best supports for their ongoing care management.

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