Press Release

Taoiseach and Minister for Health and Children announce the Office for Disability and Mental Health and the Office for Older People.

The Government today, (Wednesday, 30th January, 2008) formally announced the establishment of two new Offices to support Dr Jimmy Devins TD, Minister for Disability and Mental Health and Máire Hoctor TD, Minister for Older People.

Speaking at the launch of the new Offices, the Taoiseach said “In developing the current Social Partnership Agreement, Towards 2016, a lifecycle approach was adopted which places the person at the centre of social policy development.”

“The social partnership agreement, Towards 2016, outlines our vision for people with disabilities, mental health and older people. This Government will work with the social partners to achieve continued improvements in the quality of life of people with disabilities, mental health and older people. The establishment of the Office for Disability and Mental Health and the Office for Older People is another step in that process. The ultimate aim is to provide people with a disability mental health and older people an opportunity to live a full life and to participate in society.”

The arrangements to be put in place for disability and mental health and older people will be similar to those operating in the case of the Office of the Minister for Children. The overall vision is to put in place structures which will provide for a greater cohesion than currently exists in supporting disability, mental health and older people structures across the public service.

The Office for Disability and Mental Health and the Office for Older People will have vital roles in progressing the Government’s agenda for people with a disability and mental health and for older people. The various Government Departments will be expected to work very closely with the new Offices on all relevant issues to ensure maximum return from this whole of Government approach.

 

Notes for Editor

•Both Offices will be located within the Department of Health and Children and will forge formal linkages with other Government Departments

•A key function of the new Office for Older People will be to develop a National Strategy on Positive Ageing. The Programme for Government contains the following commitment:

“In light of the growing involvement of many Departments and agencies in this area, and of the successful model for developing policy relating to children and people with disabilities, we will develop in conjunction with the recognised voluntary groups in this area a New National Positive Ageing Strategy” to include issues such as

•the development of operational plans by Government Departments clearly setting out objectives relating to older people;  •joined up thinking on initiatives serving older people;  •ongoing mechanisms to monitor progress and identify challenges;  •liaison with recognised voluntary groups in the area

•The 2003 Prospectus Report (Audit of Structures and Functions in the Health System) identified the National Council on Ageing and Older People as one of the bodies that should be mainstreamed into the Department. It said it was essential that the skills and functions residing in each of these agencies be maintained within the revised structure. The Council will be reconstituted as a National Advisory Council on Older People. One of its functions will be to advise the Minister on better co-ordination and delivery of services.

•The Office for Disability and Mental Health will focus on supporting implementation of the Health Sectoral Plan under the Disability Act and driving implementation of the recommendations in A Vision for Change and Reach Out.

•The Office will drive the implementation of Part 2 of the Disability Act which provides people with a disability with an entitlement to:  •An independent assessment of needs,  •A statement of the services which it is proposed to provide,  •Pursue a complaint and if necessary to •Make an appeal to the independent Disability Appeals Officer

•The Office will also monitor and evaluate the implementation of the multi annual investment programme (€900m from 2006 to 2009) for people with a disability.

•The Office will in particular facilitate the delivery of integrated health and education support services for children with special needs.

•Arrangements will be put in place between the Office and the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment to address the issue of training and employment support services for people with a disability.

•The Office of the Minister for Disability and Mental Health will bring a new impetus to the implementation of A Vision for Change. It will work in partnership with the HSE to achieve implementation of agreed targets.

•Through these formal interdepartmental links the Office for Disability and Mental Health will ensure and oversee an integrated ‘whole-of-government’ approach and implementation of joined up policy.