Newsletter December 2012

Issued on December 2 2012

Will This Budget Continue to Undo the Contradictions between Health Policy And Practice?

Irish health policy is now pointed in the right direction for people with disabilities. For example the Department of Health”s publication of 15th November, titled Future Health: A Strategic Framework for Reform of the Health Service 2012-2015, claimed that health services need to focus on keeping people healthy and on treating people in the community.

Similarly, the Value for Money and Policy Review of the HSE”s disability services called for a model of service provision that centres on the person and enables them to pursue their own outcomes. The National Disability Strategy brings a whole of government commitment to the approach.

The HSE reports on residential services and day services contain plans that would give people the choice of more independent living in the community. A shift towards care in the community is also the theme for mental health services and can be expected to feature in the forthcoming dementia strategy. In brief, the plan is to empower people, through essential services and basic income supports, to keep healthy and engaged.

The problem is that budget decisions under the National Recovery Programme are forcing the health system in exactly the wrong direction. Because the easiest cuts in the short term are those that don”t put pressure on the Croke Park Agreement or on the high visibility waiting lists for acute care, community-based services bear the brunt of austerity. DFI has consistently argued that this is both inhumane and wasteful. The Government”s failure to apply its own policy harms people with disabilities who are denied necessary disability-specific and other types of health services.

DFI”s criticisms have resonance in more exalted circles. Health System Responses to Financial Pressures in Ireland , published on the Department of Health”s website on 23rd November, and authored by an international partnership hosted by the World Health Organisation,looked at the evidence and concluded that the Irish Government could not achieve its health objectives through “efficiency savings”; increased funding was required. Ireland has to face up to the really difficult decisions in getting the budget into better balance by 2015. But to jettison its own sound policy on health services in the process is a statement of its intent to achieve the opposite result.

John Dolan
Chief Executive Officer

Merry Xmas

To all our membership from the Board, Management and Staff of DFI, thank you for all your support during the past year. Happy Christmas and a prosperous new year to you all.

Happy New Year

DFI Pre-Budget Work

Budget 2013

Throughout November DFI accelerated its campaign to protect the income and services, on which people with disabilities depend, from further cuts in Budget 2013. DFI has pointed out, in every forum available, that many people with disabilities are on the edge of survival in the community, having been further excluded by the cuts made to date.

John Dolan, along with some other representatives from the voluntary and community sector, appeared before two Oireachtas Committees to make the case for a more balanced national recovery plan. He met with members of the Joint Health Committee and the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform. A number of press statements have been made and posted on our website, and DFI has joined with other groups to highlight what is at stake -

DFI staff members marched with the Disability Rights Coalition on 21st November.

DFI will publish a press statement as soon as the Budget 2013 expenditure plans are announced, and will follow up shortly thereafter with a special newsletter analysing the implications of the Budget for people with disabilities and their organisations.
We would encourage you all to visit your local TD”s,or to write a letter to them. You still have time to influence your local politicians if this budget introduces cuts to your essential services, or makes your full and active participation in local community life more difficult. If you would like some assistance please contact your local DFI Support Officer you will find their contact detail at the end of this Newsletter

Organisational Development

HR & Employment Law Update

Disability Federation of Ireland, in conjunction with Adare Human Resource Management has in place a support structure for member Organisations to avail of discounted Human Resource and Employment Law Support Services exclusively for DFI members.

Adare Human Resource Management provide HR and Employment Law Support Services to a large number of Organisations within the Community and Voluntary Sector.

HR and Employment Law Support Services include:

  • Contracts of Employment & Employee Handbooks containing policies & procedures - drafting / review / update
  • HR Helpdesk –provision of on-going access to Phone / Email HR Advice and Support
  • Representation at Workplace Relations Commission, Rights Commissioners, Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) and other external employment bodies
  • HR Consultancy Services – Recruitment / Investigations / Dispute Management

Adare Human Resource Management supports Organisations through minimising the risk of exposure to legal challenges by ensuring legal compliance for Organisations in their practices as well as policies and procedures.

Performance Reviews

At this time of the year it is important for Organisations to take a look at their plans for 2013 and forecast their objectives for the coming year.Year end is a good time to review the year to-date in terms of Employee”s performance and to look towards putting objectives in place for 2013 that link in with the overall Organisational objectives.

Performance appraisals are often considered an administrative burden on reviewers, particularly if they have a number of employees to review. Despite this, they are considered a critical management function and the importance of taking the opportunity to give employees feedback should not be underestimated. Performance management is important for a number of key reasons:

  • Performance expectations can be set which results in improved effectiveness and productivity by individuals which can benefit the Organisation as a whole.
  • Employees” skills and behaviours can be developed resulting in them adding more value to the Organisation.
  • It is an opportunity for formal two-way dialogue which can address any performance or behavioural issues.

Performance management and the appraisal process can be as much of an administrative burden as an Organisation deems necessary. Simple performancemanagement processes involve objectives being set at the beginning of the year, reviewed mid-year and finally reviewed at year end. One form, signed by both the reviewer and reviewee is usually sufficient.

To be effective and to ensure Employees buy into the process, performance appraisals should always be two way. Reviewers should be given the opportunity to provide written feedback on the evaluation of their performance against agreed objectives over the review period. Reviewers should also document their evaluation in writing.

Reviews should be arranged at least a week in advance. The meeting should take place in a private room with the reviewer and reviewer with sufficient time dedicated to the meeting. At the review meeting, both sides should be given the opportunity to discuss their views and to give an overall evaluation of the reviewers performance over the review.

If you have any questions relating to conducting performance reviews within your Organisation, do not hesitate to contact us.

For further information on the HR Support Services provided click on the link below:

Involved but Not Too Involved – Keeping Professional Distance By Maeve Halpin, Social and Organisational Psychologist

Maeve Halpin is a practising counsellor and Social and Organisational Psychologist, with many years” experience in the Community and Voluntary sector, latterly as Chair of the Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups. In conjunction with Maeve, DFI have launched an External Supervision and Support Service for staff and Boards of DFI member groups.

Many people are drawn to working in the Community and Voluntary sector because of their commitment to a particular cause, or because they want to contribute to the quality of life of people less fortunate than themselves. They bring a passion to their work that generates a “refuse to lose” mentality, a dedication to achieving results and influencing change and a creativity that finds a way around all obstacles and setbacks.

This passion can have its downsides when it develops into an over-identification with one's role and work. Over-identification is when the person cannot separate themselves emotionally from the outcomes of their work, and when their self-esteem and sense of themselves depend on how effective they are, on what they achieve, how they are perceived in their role and the approval they receive. Work becomes too closely linked to one's inner emotional life and unique personal story.

Some Causes of Over-Identification

Over-identification tends to develop gradually over time and can happen for a number of reasons. Faced with burgeoning client numbers and greater needs, staff who genuinely care for their clients can feel increasingly powerless to meet the demands placed on them. They may find themselves working longer hours and not taking holidays in an attempt to provide an effective service. Once this working schedule has been established, it can raise expectations, making it very difficult to revert to normal working patterns. This can lead to a creeping feeling of resentment at being overworked and underpaid, fuelling a need to be recognised and appreciated by clients, colleagues or superiors.

For others, working long hours can become a means of avoiding confronting other problematic issues such as marital problems, loneliness or a general lack of fulfilment. Work then becomes loaded with extraneous meanings and a healthy sense of perspective can be lost. In a busy environment, over-working can become addictive because of the adrenaline produced by the constant stress of meeting deadlines and producing results. Neglect of other important areas in our “wheel of life” (1) is an indicator that our commitment to work may need to be re-assessed. Beginning to believe that we are indispensable can also be a clear sign of over-identification.

Addressing Over-identification

People working in responsible and demanding positions need to ensure that they have regular sources of joy, fun and relaxation in their lives. As a bird needs two wings to fly, we need to balance stressful work lives with positive and uplifting activities that also enhance our self-esteem. Paradoxically, this may require additional energy and effort, like coaching a football team or baking for a country market. However, it also brings an entirely different quality into our lives, as creative pursuits are not encouraged and valued in our culture because they are not usually profit-making; most people have talents and abilities that they have never explored. Developing creative outlets is a powerful antidote to overinvesting ourselves too narrowly in our work alone and running the risk of burnout.

Bringing Balance to Life

A useful exercise is to evaluate the priority we attach to different areas in our “Wheel of Life”. A typical Wheel of Life model has 8-10 “spokes” such as Health, Family and Friends, and Personal Development. Work is just one of those spokes. Ensuring that we give equal attention to all areas will help us to reflect on our priorities and values, regain perspective and maintain our emotional equilibrium. This means we can be kinder to ourselves and others, feel less stressed, decrease the risk of burnout and ultimately provide a more effective service to our clients.

More information is available at


Department of Health- Recent Policy Publications

“Future Health: A Strategic Framework for Reform of the Health Service 2012-2015”, released by the Department on 15 November, accurately diagnoses the problems and challenges confronting Ireland”s health system, and posits four sensible-sounding pillars of reform. However when it comes to concrete actions to achieve, for example, the good health and well being of the population, the document fails to map the way forward. It does describe three stages for the reforms but only at a very high level.

There is little to give comfort to people with disabilities about issues such as coverage by the proposed universal health care of non-GP hospital services, such as therapies, nor does it consider the implications of extending the Fair Deal scheme for nursing home care to community-based services. While the empowerment of people using health services features as a goal, there is little reference to consultations and working in partnership with those representing people. Others, commenting on the publication, have noted the absence of convincing information about how the goals will be progressed in an environment of fiscal constraints.

“Future Health: A Strategic Framework for Reform of the Health Service 2012-2015”,

Another publication, also on the Department”s website, “Health System Responses to Financial Pressures in Ireland: Policy Options in an International Context”, was commissioned by the Department of Health, and conducted by an international group of experts, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), University College Dublin (UCD), and the London School of Economics (LSE). Although not an in-depth study of the Irish situation, the 125 page document considers the main policy options available in the fiscal environment in which we find ourselves.

Some of the key findings include:

  • Although there is scope to make substantial additional savings through efficiency savings (across the health system), these cannot be made without damaging patient care, unless high salaries and the high price of other inputs are seriously addressed.
  • If this is not feasible, the Government should consider establishing a mechanism to compensate the Department of Health and Health Service Executive for unavoidable increased demand for health and long term care.

The work was commissioned in the context of decision-making for Budget 2013.

“Health System Responses to Financial Pressures in Ireland: Policy Options in an International Context”, is also available at

National Disability Strategy

Department of Social Protection Disability Consultative Forum

DFI attended the Department of Social Protection (DSP) Disability Consultative Forum on Friday 21st September 2012. The following is a synopsis of what was discussed at that meeting:

Partial Capacity Benefit (PCB) - Partial Capacity Benefit (PCB) is a new scheme that allows a person to return to work if they have reduced capacity and receive payment from the DSP. It replaces the previous arrangements, whereby the Department gave permission to work while in receipt of illness benefit or invalidity pension, known as exemptions. It was launched on 13th February 2012.

The Scheme is a voluntary Scheme for those on Illness Benefit for over six months, or on Invalidity Pension. There are two streams of applicants, those who previously had an exemption, and new applicants. Those on Community Employment Schemes are not eligible for PCB.

Applicants do not require to have secured employment before they apply for PCB. However, in practice, having employment is an integral part of the scheme. There is no limit on the amount of earnings or the number of hours worked. The employment is not required to be rehabilitative or of therapeutic nature. However the applicant must get their GP”s approval, in particular that there will be no negative impact on their medical condition by participating in employment.

The restriction on a person”s capacity to work is assessed by the department”s Medical Assessor using the medical history retained by this department and information supplied by the customer and their GP. The Rates of payment are as follows:

Rates of payment
Medical AssessmentPersonal Rate of Illness Benefit and Invalidity Pension

Rates for Increase for Qualified Adults and Children are not affected

If the restriction on a person”s capacity to work is assessed as mild then the customer”s continuing entitlement to Illness Benefit or Invalidity Pension will be reviewed. (The Department has stated that currently there are very few such cases).

Free Travel and Household Benefit Package will be retained by Invalidity Pension customers while on PCB. However, entitlement to the household benefits package will be subject to a means test after two years. PCB customer”s coming from invalidity pension will no longer have entitlement to Free Fuel and Living Alone Allowance.

Application forms are available from PCB Section only. This allows the section to engage with customers before they apply and ensure that applications are made correctly. The application contains a Personal Questionnaire that allows an individual to provide information on the extent to which their medical condition restricts their daily activities. It also requests a GP report and other medical documentation, such as consultants report.

PCB is paid weekly by Electronic Transfer in arrears and there is no requirement for the customer to supply medical certs once PCB has been awarded.

As far as possible the start of PCB payment coincides with the start of employment. Entitlement to PCB can be reviewed at any time. Payment of PCB may last as long as a person has entitlement to Invalidity Pension or Illness Benefit. A person can revert to Illness Benefit or Invalidity Pension, but the rules of the scheme will then apply (No permission to Work). A person can also make future applications for PCB.

There have been approximately 1,400 applications since February 2012. 45% are new applications and 55% are from those who previously held an exemption. 72% are from Illness Benefit and 28% are from Invalidity Pension. In excess of 80% of PCB applications have been assessed as Moderate and 2% has been assessed as Mild. All aspects of the scheme are currently being monitored.

PCB contact details are as follows: Partial Capacity Benefit Section, Floor 2, ÁMD, Store St, Dublin 1, Tel: 01704 3950/3039/3735/3991

DFI Comment: We want to hear about any experience you have on the Partial Capacity Scheme (positive or negative) for inform our representative work at the consultative fora with the Department. Please get in touch with Louise McCann at 01 4250126 or with any feedback you might have.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Review

Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) transferred from the HSE to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) in April 2009. Approximately 23,000 claims transferred from the HSE and there are now 26,000 Domiciliary Care claims in payment. The Department processes approximately 5,000 claims per annum and they are all desk assessed by a Medical Assessor. 56% of applications are successful and approximately 10% are won at appeal stage.

The Medical Assessor recommends a review date of between one year and five years.

These reviews began in 2011 and the disallowance rate was about 50%. In May of this year, the Minister asked for a review the Scheme and to suspend all future medical reviews until this review was complete.

The Review group has met twice and participants include representatives from DSP, Appeals Office, Medical Assessment, Finance, Health, NDA and four groups representing parents.

A report from the working group should be completed by the end of December.

Submissions had been invited from interested parties (parents and disability representative bodies) with a closing date of 28th Sept. A survey of customers was also undertaken to look at various aspects of DCA and type of disability.

A comparative study was also undertaken to look at other countries rates of payments and supports offered. The working group has also been asked to liaise with the tax and social welfare group looking at 2012 budget proposals on DA and DCA age limits.

DFI stressed the need to assess children on the basis of a social model of disability and stressed that the Review Group must also include representatives with specialist knowledge of physical, sensory and neurological disabilities. DFI also attended a consultation on the Review of Domiciliary Care Allowance hosted by the National Disability Authority on the 7th November 2012. Groups that had made submissions to the Review Group were invited to attend this.

The DFI submission on Domiciliary Care Allowance is available on our website at .

If you have any comments or feedback on social welfare issues for people with disabilities, please contact Louise McCann at 01 4250126 or .

A Framework for People”s Rights Amnesty Conference on Human Rights in an Economic Crisis

Amnesty International”s conference, entitled “A Deficit of Protection – Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Ireland”, took place on 22nd November. Speakers highlighted how a rights framework can support the Government to respect social entitlements, even in the face of economic pressures, which some states, Ireland excepted, have successfully used.
Amnesty International”s Executive Director observed that “Human rights and economics do not exist in separate realities. Economic decisions affect our access to human rights. And we believe that the principles and frameworks of human rights law must be used by the Government to decide how it allocates resources during the current economic crisis.”

With Ireland taking steps to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adoption of the rights framework is highly relevant to achieving equality by people with disabilities, and countering the backsliding experienced during the current recession.

Further information is available at

Human Rights Approach to Social Protection

This report, commissioned by the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, refers to poverty, but it could as well speak to inclusion of people with disabilities. It states, “Because human rights strive to empower the poor, the focus of poverty alleviation efforts is fundamentally shifted from a charity or needs-based approach, towards a concentration on rights and entitlements, which in turn give rise to obligations on the part of the State. From a human rights perspective, individuals are rights-holders that can make legitimate claims, and States and other actors are duty-bearers that are responsible and can be held accountable for their acts or omissions. Therefore, a focus on rights and obligations helps to identify who is entitled to make claims and who has a duty to take action, empowering those who have legitimate claims to rights. This regulates the exercise of power and ensures that those who wield power are answerable to those who do not. In this regard, accountability, the essential principle of human rights, has the potential to empower people living in poverty and facilitate their visibility, ensuring that they are at the centre of public policies on poverty eradication not as passive beneficiaries, but as rights holders that can exercise their entitlements by holding responsible those behind such policies. As a result, the human rights approach has the potential to improve the effectiveness of poverty reduction efforts, and to ensure that progress is equitable and sustainable.”
To read the report, please click

Dublin Bus Accessible Fleet

As part of the Dublin Bus effort to operate a 100% accessible fleet, Dublin Bus have placed advertisements in a number of local and national papers asking people with disabilities who experience problems with the ramps on the bus not working to contact Dublin Bus in order that they can address the problem. To register your Dublin Bus Fleet ramp access issues please phone 01-7033204 to report a broken ramp, or E-mail
Please note the information you should try to record is;

  • The Bus Number (E.g. 145 Bray to Dublin)
  • The time of the day/night the ramp was broken
  • The Bus fleet number. (This number is on the front of the Bus near the door)

Please remember that if you do not inform Dublin Bus when a ramp is broken that bus stays in service on your route. By not making the call yourself you run the risk of not being able to access the same bus on your way home.

If we are serious about wanting a 100% accessible Dublin Bus Fleet then we as people with disabilities must play our part and our part is to report the fault to Dublin Bus.

Housing Tenants” Rights

The Minister for Housing, Minister O”Sullivan TD has announced an amendment bill that would extend rights currently held by tenants of private landlords to the voluntary housing sector. These rights enhance security of tenure. However the extension would exclude many people with disabilities in voluntary housing who receive care supports.

DFI is strongly opposing this exemption from the protection afforded by legislative rights. We consider it unjust and in contravention of the UN Convention on the Rights of people with Disabilities, which Ireland is soon to ratify.

The Bill, Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2012, will be debated in the Oireachtas, and those concerned about equality of treatment should consider raising the issue with their TDs.

For further information, please contact or click,30752,en.htm


For information please contact the relevant organisation directly.

Support Officers

National Office
Fumbally Court Fumbally Lane, Dublin 8
Tel: 01 454 7978 Fax: 01 494 7981

Dublin Mid-Leinster
Anthony Carrick
Dun Laoghaire, Dublin South East, Wicklow (Dublin Office),
Mobile: 086 8206736

Louise McCann
Dublin South City, Dublin South West, Dublin West, Kildare, West Wicklow (Dublin Office)
Mobile: 086 9189750

Jacqueline Grogan
Laois, Offaly, Longford, Westmeath
Tel: 01 708 0108 Fax: 01 494 7981

Lillian Buchanan
Support Officer – Policy and Research (Dublin Office)
Tel: 01 424 0127

Joan O”Connor
Policy and Research Assistant,
Fumbally Lane, Dublin 8
Tel: 01-4250121

Dermot O”Donnell
Support Officer – Support for Organisations (Dublin Office)
Tel: 01-4250125

Dublin North-East
Joan O”Donnell
Meath, Louth, Cavan, Monaghan
01 4250122

Martin Naughton
Dublin North Central, Dublin North, Dublin West
Mobile: 086 8207196

Michael Corbett,
Galway, Mayo, Roscommon
C/O DFI, 8 Acres Grove, Newport, Co. Mayo,
Tel: 098 41919,
Mobile: 086 3804750,
Fax: 098 41065,

Jennifer Van Aswegen
Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal
Disability Federation of Ireland
Model Niland, The Mall, Sligo
Co Sligo
Mob: 086 3811261

Toni Gleeson,
Limerick, North Tipperary, East Limerick, Clare
DFI, The Forge, Croke St. Thurles, Co Tipperary
Mobile: 086 6004526

P.J. Cleere
Carlow, Kilkenny, South Tipperary, Waterford, Wexford
DFI, Tinryland, Carlow
Tel: 059 9179431
Mobile: 086 3811064

Alison Ryan
Cork, Kerry
101 North Main Street, Cork
Tel: 021 4271752 Mobile 086 3816323

About DFI

The Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) represents the interests and the expectations of people with disabilities to be fully included in Irish society. It comprises organisations that represent and support people with disabilities and disabling conditions.

The vision of DFI is that Irish society is fully inclusive of people with disabilities and disabling conditions so that they can exercise their full civil, economic, social and human rights and that they are enabled to reach their full potential in life. DFI”s mission is to act as an advocate for the full and equal inclusion of people with disabilities and disabling conditions in all aspects of their lives.

There are over 130 organisations within membership, or as associates, of DFI. DFI also works with a growing number of organisations and groups around the country that have a significant disability interest, mainly from the statutory and voluntary sectors. DFI provides:

  • Information
  • Training and Support
  • Networking
  • Advocacy and Representation
  • Research and Policy Development / Implementation
  • Organisation and Management Development

DFI works on the basis that disability is a societal issue and so works with Government, and across the social and economic strands and interests of society.

For further information go to
Disability Federation of Ireland, Fumbally Court, Fumbally Lane, Dublin 8
Tel: 01-4547978
Fax: 01-4547981

Union of Voluntary Organisations of People with Disabilities trading as The Disability Federation of Ireland is a company limited by guarantee not having share capital, registered in Dublin. Registered No. 140948, CHY No 6177