Speech By Minister Moloney At The Launch Of The Early Intervention Team, Nazareth House, Sligo

I’m delighted to be here today to launch The Early Intervention Team which is based in a wing of Nazareth House, Churchill, Sligo.

From the outset, I wish to emphasise the Government’s continuing commitment to providing a high quality service to all people with a disability. This commitment is illustrated by the substantial investment we have been making in disability services over the last number of years through the Multi Annual Investment Programme (MAIP) for Disability Services provided in excess of €900 million over the years 2006 – 2009.

The MAIP made provision for the development of additional residential, respite and day care places for people with intellectual disabilities and autism. Furthermore, the MAIP provided additional residential and home support services for people with physical and sensory disabilities.

At the end of 2008, the MAIP had provided for large increases in service capacity for people with disabilities –
Intellectual Disability

  • Residential places – 804 new places and 406 enhanced places
  • Respite places – 307 new places and 61 enhanced places
  • Day places – 1,863 new places and 195 enhanced places

Physical & Sensory Disability

  • Residential places – 275 new places and 43 enhanced places
  • PA/Homes Support Hours – 911,626

Specialist Disability capital monies of approximately €250,000 were approved in 2008 to specifically adapt the Nazareth House building to provide this therapeutic and assessment facility (assessment/clinical rooms, large assessment and treatment area for physiotherapy etc) which provides a child and family friendly environment. This centre now provides access to the services of a multidisciplinary team, i.e. Therapists, Counsellors, Dieticians, & Paediatricians from within the one location.

Disability development funding was also provided in 2007/2008 to enhance the team with 6 new posts, with a further 2 posts (Speech and Language Therapy and Occupational Therapy) approved in 2009.

The Government’s objective in the coming years is to move the disability agenda to a level which matches any other country in the world. We aim to do so in partnership with all stakeholders, thereby maximising the use of all our resources to promote the full involvement of people with disabilities in the social, economic, political and cultural life of Ireland.

The National Disability Strategy will be the framework used to enact positive action measures to support the participation of people with disabilities in Irish society.

The Disability Act 2005 forms an integral part of this Strategy. Part 2 of the Disability Act 2005, provides a statutory entitlement to:

  • An independent assessment of health and educational needs;
  • A statement of the services (Service Statement) which it is proposed to provide; and
  • The right to pursue a complaint through an independent redress mechanism if there is a failure to provide these entitlements.

Part 2 of the Disability Act 2005 commenced for children aged less than 5 years with effect from 1st June 2007.

This prioritisation reflects the importance of intervention early in life, which can have a significant impact on the disabling effects of a condition or impairment.

It had been intended to have the Disability Act 2005 fully implemented during 2010 in respect of children between 5 and 18 years of age. This would have required significant additional investment in 2009 and 2010 to prepare the health sector for the operation of the legislation and to support the statutory processes that would be required. In the light of the current financial circumstances, it has become necessary to defer further implementation of the Act.

The changed economic situation brings challenges to both policy makers and service providers in determining how services are provided and funded to support people with disabilities. In this regard my Department is engaging in a Value for Money and Policy Review of Disability Services as part of the Government’s Value for Money Reviews for 2009-2011. This in-depth review of Disability Services will assess how well current services for people with disabilities meet their objectives and support the future planning and development of services. The evaluation will focus on the current provision of disability services and explore the way forward for the development of services within a value for money and policy framework.

Finally, I wish to congratulate all those who are involved in the provision of the Early Intervention Services in Nazareth House and would commend them for the vital role they play in the community.