Newsletter August 2012
Issued on August 13 2012
Twelve years ago, in 2000, the Government officially adopted the policy of “mainstreaming”, the inclusion of people with disabilities in everyday life and in all public services. The National Disability Strategy (NDS) further embedded this policy objective, four years later.
Although people with disabilities, and their voluntary organisations, have actively promoted the implementation of mainstreaming, public services haveoften been slow to respond. This has been the case for health and personal support services which, of course, are critical to enabling people to get on with their lives. The Value for Money & Policy Review, which examined HSE disability services, has now made explicit the purpose of those services:
"The following vision statement should be adopted as an expression of a revitalised and re-orientated Disability Services Programme:
“To contribute to the realisation of a society where people with disabilities are supported to participate to their full potential in economic and social life and have access to a range of quality personal social supports and services to enhance their quality of life and well-being.”
Unfortunately, the Review was unable to evaluate, against this vision statement and related goals, all of the services and supports delivered under the Programme, because key information was lacking. In particular the many community-based activities offered by voluntary organisations, such as family and peer support groups, self-management plans, help lines, etc, were not examined.
The Review would have been much stronger if it had considered what was needed for communities to be effective in welcoming and including people with disabilities. It is understandable, therefore, if people are cynical about the 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 these important questions.
Meanwhile it is in everyone”s interest to study the Review. It contains many recommendations,including information reporting, operational auditing and needs assessment, which will affect all organisations funded under the HSE Programme. DFI stands ready to support people with disabilities and the voluntary sector to make the most of the opportunities created by this Review.
John Dolan, CEO