DFI's Health Advocacy Programme

DFI’s Advocacy Structures

DFI advocacy works to ensure realisation of the UN CRPD across all areas of advocacy and representation; the effective and continued investment and implementation of national disability policy; and the integrity of the goals of the Dialogue Forum working to partnership principles between DFI member organisations and the State.

The Health Advocacy Programme

The DFI Health Advocacy Programme exists as part of this wider advocacy and representation structure. It is one of the foundation spaces of advocacy for DFI, as a pan-disability federation of voluntary organisations. In this health space, DFI has a mandate to ensure members are appropriately supported and resourced, to maintain their work of disability specific expert service and support to people with disabilities. In recent times, the DFI health advocacy space has experienced significant growth, with DFI now delivering advocacy across key areas of health policy, service provision and organisation capacity, in collaboration with DFI’s wider Advocacy and Representation Programme and in line with the UN CRPD.

The Value of Our Members

DFI recognises the breadth of DFI Member Organisations, who are among the voluntary disability organisations currently delivering 70% of all services to support people with disabilities in Ireland today[1]. DFI member organisations were established in response to the disability specific needs of the population they support; they are and always will be the innovators of service design, delivery and reform. DFI’s aim within health advocacy is to ensure a recognition in real terms, of the value our members provide to people with disabilities, through open and effective dialogue with the Oireachtas, Government Departments, Health Service Executive (HSE) as primary funders, government departments as policy makers, and wider stakeholders of policy and service delivery.

DFI Member Organisation Representation

DFI Health Advocacy is built on a structure of DFI Member Organisations representation and consultation. Twenty-six individual staff from DFI member organisations are currently engaged in a representative capacity through the Health Advocacy Programme. DFI member organisations offer their disability specialist expert knowledge as well as providing pan-disability representation and consultation.

Knowledge Transfer

DFI’s health advocacy is directed by our members' voice and expert knowledge to set priority areas for the programme. Fifteen priority areas for action have been identified for 2023 as follows: 

  1. Improve transparency of communication and increase knowledge transfer between DFI member organisations and DFI Health Committee representatives.
  2. Increase awareness of the impact of workforce planning (recruitment and retention) and S39 pay parity.
  3. Work towards the Dialogue Forums progression towards Partnership Principles in action.
  4. Produce an impact analysis on the transition of Government Departments.
  5. Continued advocacy regarding the Capacity Review and publication of the Action Plan relevant to Specialist Community-Based Disability Services, SCBDS Disability Programme under the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.
  6. Advocacy and member representation within the planning of Regional Health Areas, RHAs under Sláintecare.
  7. Identify and advocate for Budget 2024 Campaign priorities.
  8. Ongoing advocacy through consultation with members and submissions to the Department of Health on Homecare Standards and Regulations.
  9. Implementation of the Neuro Rehabilitation Strategy.
  10. Inform and consult with members for priority actions in relation to Safeguarding.
  11. Consult with Personal Assistance Service Providers in relation to ongoing sustainability issues of quality service provision.
  12. Monitor and advocate for member experiences and concerns in relation to ADM Implementation.
  13. Monitor and advocate for member experiences and concerns in relation to Children’s Services.
  14. Monitor New Directions implementation as it relates to the lifecycle of disability – child to adult, disability to older persons.
  15. Monitor and feed in member experiences and concerns in relation to the inappropriate placement of Under 65s in Nursing Homes.

This continual transfer of information is enabled in two distinct ways:

  • Direct consultation with member organisations, who provide a mandate to DFI representatives in health committee spaces.
  • Representation to health committee spaces by both representatives from member organisations and DFI staff as appropriate.

DFI has worked to secure spaces on thirty-six health committees nationwide as well as through direct and group engagement with both the Department of Children, Disability, Equality, Integration and Youth and the Department of Health. This list is expanding as the Health Advocacy Programme grows, in line with the landscape of disability policy within Ireland. 

List of Health Advocacy Programme Committees:

  • The National Ability Support System Committee (NASS) – Activity Design and Optimisation Group for Disability Services
  • IRG Dialogue Forum with Voluntary Organisations
  • The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Community and Voluntary Pillar Bilateral
  • HSE National Consultative Committee, NCC
  • Time to Move on from Congregated Settings Working Group
  • Under 65s in Nursing Homes Expert Advisory Group
  • Stakeholder Reference Group for the HSE Recommendations Implementation of the Ombudsman's “Wasted Lives” Report
  • HSE Assisted Decision Making, ADM Divisional Team Disability Reference Group
  • New Directions National Implementation Advisory Group
  • PCP Framework Implementation Group (Subgroup to the New Directions National Implementation Advisory Group)
  • Working Group to establish MDT (Multi-Disciplinary Team) needs of Adults in Receipt of Disability Day Services
  • Interim Standards – Commissioning Steering Group
  • Home Sharing Working Group
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder Awareness and Communications Working Group
  • National Patient and Service User Forum
  • Development of Accessible Medical Information – Working Group
  • Disability Services (Residential) Guiding Principles Group
  • Medication Management Framework
  • HIQA (Health Information and Quality Authority) Provider Forum – Residential
  • HIQA Lexicon Expert Advisory Group
  • HIQA Children’s Reference Group

National Safeguarding Group

  • HSE Funded Safeguarding Reference Group
  • Disabilities and Older Persons Children First Committee
  • Working Group to support the development of Train the Trainer programmes for services that do not have the facilitation skills capacity so that they can become self-sufficient in the delivery of the Mandated Persons Training Programme (Subgroup)
  • Independent Governance Review Group
  • HSE National Quality Improvement Forum for Disability Services
  • National Disability ICT Board
  • Children’s Disability Network Team Information Management System, CDNTIMS National Project Oversight Group
  • Childrens Disability Network Team Information Management System, CDNTIMS National Project Team
  • NCPPD (National Clinical Programme for People with Disability) Disability Advisory Group (DAG)
  • Digital and Assistive Technology Working Group (NCPPD)
  • Disability and Clinical Programme Nursing Committee (NCPPD)
  • Specialised Supports and Services to Children Disability Network Teams (NCPPD)

How to Get Involved

All DFI Member Organisations who provide support and services with a health remit are automatically referred to the Health Advocacy Programme. For further details contact our Health Advocacy Programme Manager Catherine McGrath.  

Notes and References: 

Disability Capacity Review