More Support Needed for Disability Services in Winter Plan

25 September 2020

Ivana Bacik

Reacting to publication of the HSE Winter Plan, Labour Senator and spokesperson for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration Ivana Bacik has highlighted the notable lack of measures to support disability services.

Senator Bacik said:

“It seems that people with disabilities and their families have not been given sufficient recognition in the composition of the HSE’s Winter Plan. In fact, the word disability appears only once in the entire document and it is not in the context of reopening day services, either.

“Pre-existing funding deficiencies, coupled with the devastating effects of Covid-19, make this insufficient provision very disappointing indeed, with grave consequences for people relying on these services across the country. A significant portion of the day services that closed back in March have yet to reopen fully, with many operating at only 40% of what they were pre-lockdown. 

“People with disabilities and their families have been more than patient with the Government since the start of the pandemic. Yesterday, on Today with Claire Byrne on RTE, we heard from two such people who are affected. Eileen and her daughter Fiona spoke about the severe effect that lack of access to day services has had for Eileen’s physical and mental health. So many others, too, are relying on the Government to take action and ensure that services are provided where they are needed. Persons with disabilities and their families have shown incredible resilience throughout this crisis, but they have been neglected by the Government and many are at breaking point .

“Service providers must be supported in reopening and complying with social distancing regulations; and service users must be facilitated in returning to day services and in seeking supports at home. I am calling on the Government to use the upcoming Budget 2021 to address the severe funding shortfall in the sector and to remedy the inadequacy of the Winter Plan by allocating funding to struggling disability services as a matter of priority.”