Disibility Federation of Ireland Welcomes ‘Value for Money and Policy Review’

The Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) has welcomed the publication of the Department of Health’s ‘Value for Money and Policy Review’ of the HSE's funding for disability services. However, DFI is disappointed that the key area of community services is not adequately addressed in the report.

John Dolan, CEO said : “It is important that the review has been published and it contains valuable insights, which will be of interest to the entire disability sector.  Unfortunately the review was unable to outline how funding currently DFIsupports people to live in the community.  Due to the lack of available data this report focusses almost exclusively on residential and day services.  The Department must now address this deficiency in key information to ensure the recognition and monitoring of person-led services and supports located in the community.  Community supports which have a clear outcome of empowering people with disabilities are a key element of mainstreaming.”

This Review takes an important, if late, step on the road to ensuring the alignment of existing funding and service models with current disability policy.  Twelve years ago the Government formally adopted 'mainstreaming' as its policy approach to the inclusion of people with disabilities and embedded this in the National Disability Strategy.  Yet it was not until July 2009, almost a decade later, that Government established the Value for Money and Policy Review.  The Review properly acknowledges the need to move away from traditional ways of providing services, stating: "The VFM Review considers that the person-centred model ... would form the basis of the future direction of disability policy, [with a goal of] full inclusion and self-determination through the access to the individualised personal social supports and services needed to live a fully included life in the community." (p.174)

John Dolan went on to say, “Voluntary organisations have pushed the boundaries in the development of inclusive services for people with disabilities such as Personal Assistants services and community supports which enable people to access transport, education, employment, sporting and a social life.  Government policy caught up with this in the National Disability Strategy, and this Review, is part of an on-going implementation of Government policy towards people with disabilities.”

He added “Many disability organisations, often led by disabled people themselves, are pioneering positive changes that make Ireland a more disability-friendly country, but there still is a long way to go. We now need to build on the work of this Review, redirecting all our efforts towards achieving a truly mainstream society.  The Government has promised to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which incorporates respect for the inherent dignity and individual autonomy of people with disabilities – and I expect to see some progress with this shortly."

“It is understandable if people are cynical about this Review.  Is it a cost cutting mechanism in the middle of the recession or a sincere attempt to improve the lives of people with disabilities?  Action taken over the coming months will answer this important question." John Dolan concluded.

The Value for Money report is available here: http://www.dohc.ie/publications/VFM_Disability_Services_Programme_2012.html

DFI's Initial Analysis is available here: http://www.disability-federation.ie/index.php?uniqueID=10566