Press Release

Minister McGrath welcomes progress on reforming our disability services under the Transforming Lives programme

Minister for Disabilities, Finian McGrath TD, today published  the 2016 progress report on the Transforming Lives programme. Transforming Lives underpins the collective effort nationally to fundamentally reform how we deliver services for people with a disability.  The report sets out the progress made in 2016 and highlights some personal stories of people with a disability who are being supported to bring about positive changes in their lives.

Minister McGrath welcomed the progress made in delivering the Transforming Lives programme, which requires a joined up approach nationally across the disability sector. To progress this, six priority areas are being focussed on. The members of the groups working on each of these six priorities are wide ranging and include representatives from voluntary and statutory service providers, service user representatives, parent representatives, government departments and the HSE.  Their work includes:

•  Strategic planning – planning for future needs and piloting new approaches e.g. national needs assessment for people with an ID over the next 10 years
•   Implementing policy – putting policy into practice in three main areas; services for children and young people, day services and residential services
•  Community involvement – engaging with people who use our services, their families and communities
•   Quality and standards – ensuring standards are consistently met and measured and underpinned by quality of life outcomes
•   Management and information – developing the right tools and technology to capture the right information e.g. standard assessment tools to identify people’s needs
•    Governance and accountability – putting in place formal arrangements to underpin transparency and accountability e.g. service agreements

Minister McGrath praised the work completed to date, saying, “The report shows that progress is being made and that there are some excellent examples of where people with a disability are being supported to live better and more inclusive lives in their community.  It tells us of the very real impacts that the reforms being put in place are having on the lives of people with disabilities, most notably supporting people to finding their own interests and in giving them choice in what they do to make a day meaningful to them.

“The report also points to actions that remain to be taken to ensure that we deliver real changes and improvements to address the needs of people who use disability services, and it is acknowledged that these areas will need continued work and investment in the years ahead. However, it is important to acknowledge all that has already been done to support people with disabilities and those who care for them.”

Pat Healy, National Director of Social Care, HSE, welcomed the publication of the report and said, “Transforming Lives is about fundamentally changing how we deliver services and support people with a disability to achieve their full potential. Delivering on this level of change is a challenge but one we are working very hard to meet. In 2016, we saw some very positive progress which we have built on in 2017. We know there is so much more to be done but it’s important to acknowledge the positive changes that are taking place such as enabling and supporting people who have lived most of their lives in large institutions to move to their own homes. I want to acknowledge all those we work with across the disability sector who make this happen; service users, their families, advocates, services providers, government etc. Together we can, and are, transforming lives and supporting people with a disability to ‘live ordinary lives in ordinary places’”.

Download a copy of Transforming Lives Progress Report 2016 here.

Note to Editors

Transforming Lives is the reform programme to implement the recommendations of the Value for Money (VFM) & Policy Review of Disability Services in Ireland.  This report outlines the progress in 2016 of the six working groups to implement the key recommendations of the VFM Report. The key recommendations of the VFM report related to national policy on:

•     Congregated Settings (A Time to Move on) –
•     The provision of Day Services (New Directions) –
•      Progressing Children’s Services (0-18 Therapy Services) –

A snapshot of some of the work delivered in 2016/2017 includes:

•    HSE funded 90 service providers to deliver services in more than 900 centres – €1.1bn

•    Largest five service providers receive €548m (33% of total disability spend)

•    Since the ‘Time to Move On’ policy was introduced those living in large institutions have reduced from 4,000 to approx 2,500. More than 380 people have moved in recent years to homes of their choice in the community. It is expected that another 140 people will have moved by the end of 2017 and, to date, houses have been confirmed for 189 people in 2018 with work ongoing to secure more.

•    The quality of life changes experienced by people leaving large institutions is being tracked – This will profile a day in the life of a person in an institutional setting and then after a period of time re-evaluate the changes in a person‘s life having moved to community living. This information will help others to understand the benefits of integration rather than segregation.

•   Priority capital money has been allocated for houses in the community; €12m capital housing projects in 2016 and €20m in 2017

•    835 people supported in Home Sharing; an important support for people with a disability and their families

•     Day Services have been developed in line with New Directions Policy, empowering people to make their own decisions about how they spend their day and to access activities in their own community.

•      All school leavers were profiled for the first time enabling better planning/support for young people transitioning from school to adult day services

•     A final report about community participation and involving service users in designing their services, ‘Plan for Effective Participation’, is nearing completion

•      New governance measures are in place to ensure accountability and transparency in the disability sector

•    The work of the National Steering Group and it’s Sub Groups continues in 2017 to ensure that the key recommendations of the VFM Report are implemented.