Minister Lynch publishes the Report of the Value for Money and Policy Review of the Disability Services Programme

Ms Kathleen Lynch T.D., Minister for Disability, Equality, Mental Health & Older People today (20 July 2012) published the Report of the Value for Money and Policy Review of the Disability Services Programme.

The Review recommends a significant restructuring of the Disability Services Programme through:

Through this restructuring, the Review points the way towards the achievement of optimal effectiveness and efficiency within the existing substantial resources expended on health and personal services for people with a disability. The Minister has welcomed the recommendations in the Review as providing framework for the development of effective and accountable services and expressed her unequivocal commitment to the model of person-centred supports recommended in the Review.

In the context of delivering a more person-centred service, and in line with commitments in the Programme for Government, the Minister intends that the actions recommended in the Review will lay the groundwork for a system of individualised budgeting, once sufficient analysis of the benefits is carried out in the Irish context and adequate financial management, resource allocation and governance structures are in place to ensure its long-term viability. Individualised budgeting, the Minister explained, is an approach whereby a monetary value is placed on the supports required by the individual to live a fully included life in the community. It may be implemented in many ways, but the essence of individualised budgeting is that the individual is given more choice and control over how the money allocated to meet their needs is utilised. This approach must be underpinned by a standardised needs assessment to ensure fairness and transparency in the way in which funding is allocated.

The Minister commended the Chairman, Mr Laurence Crowley, and the members of the Steering Group, the Project Team and the Policy Expert Reference Group for their sterling efforts in delivering this important report. The Minister also had a special word of thanks for the many service providers, both in the HSE and the voluntary agencies, who co-operated with, and provided assistance to, the Review. The Minister said “Although the Review points to a new way of delivering services we must never forget the debt we owe as a society to the dedication and commitment of voluntary agencies the length and breadth of the country that have provided services for people with disabilities for almost a century. I know that they will now demonstrate the same dedication and commitment in re-shaping our disability services to meet the challenge of providing a more person-centred and outcome-orientated service” said the Minister. She continued “I believe that the statutory authorities, working in partnership with service users, their families and the non-statutory service providers, will prove equal to the challenge. I am confident that by working together we will realise the vision of a more inclusive society for people with disabilities, where services and supports will be tailored to meet the needs of the individual citizen, and not the other way round”

The Minister went on to say “I fully endorse the re-articulated vision and goals proposed in the Review, as an expression of a revitalised and re-orientated Disability Services Programme.” “I have asked the HSE to liaise with service providers immediately to commence the process of implementing the recommendations in the Review, in conjunction with my Department.” she added.

The full Report is now available on the Department of Health’s website (www.doh.ie) or through the following link: www.dohc.ie/publications/VFM_Disability_Services_Programme_2012.html

ENDS

Notes for Editors

Background

The VFM and Policy Review of the Disability Services was initiated by the Department of Health in June 2009 and was conducted under the auspices of the Government’s Value for Money & Policy Review Initiative 2009-2011.

The purpose of the Review was to assess how well current services for people with disabilities met their objectives and support the future planning and development of services.

Steering Group

The Review was overseen by an independent chair, Mr Laurence Crowley, FCA, CBE, LLD. Mr Crowley is a Director of Bord Gais Eireann, Aer Lingus Group PLC, and a number of private companies. He is also Chairman of Midletown Centre for Autism and Executive Chairman UCD, Michael Smurfit School of Business. He was previously Governor of the Bank of Ireland.

The Steering Group had two other independent members, Mr James O’Dwyer, former Chairman of Arthur Cox, the Dublin based law firm and a member of the Advisory Board of the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business and Mr Gerard Flood who is a Director of a number of private companies and was formally a Partner in KPMG with responsibility for its Corporate Finance service delivery as well as members drawn from the Disability Sector, Department of Health, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, and the HSE. The Membership of the Steering Group is set out in Appendix 1 of the Review.

Scale of the Disability Services Programme

During the period under review, expenditure on disability services increased from €1.3 billion net in 2005 to €1.7 billion net in 2009. Expenditure in the current year will be approximately €1.5 billion. Residential services are provided to around 8,500 people by almost 60 agencies at over 1,200 locations, ranging from large congregated settings, to community group homes, and supported independent living. Day services are provided to around 18,500 service users with intellectual, physical or sensory disabilities and autism at 850 different locations by 80 organisations. A variety of other services are also provided under the Disability Services Programme, including respite, home support, personal assistance and assisted living, early childhood/family support, community based medical, nursing and therapy services, rehabilitative training, aids and appliances.

Objectives of the Review

The full Terms of Reference of the Review are given in Chapter 1 of the Report.

Public Consultation

As part of the VFM Review, a public consultation process was undertaken on existing disability services which confirmed that people with disabilities and their families, more than anything else, are looking for more choice in the services they receive and more control over how they access them. It clearly underlined the necessity of reform in how disability services are funded and organised.

Some of the main findings of the consultation include:

A report on the findings of the public consultation are available on the Department of Health website (www.doh.ie).

Policy Review

As part of the overall VFM review, an Expert Reference Group on Disability Policy was established to look specifically at existing disability policy and whether it needed to be changed to better meet the expectations and objectives of people with disabilities and to advise the Steering Group accordingly. The Expert Reference Group report proposed a reframing of disability services towards a model of individualised supports, underpinned by mainstreaming of all public services. The Group’s final report was the subject of internal consultation within the Department of Health and with other Government Departments and was also released for public consultation. In drafting its final report the Steering Group took into consideration the recommendations made by the Policy Review Group and the results of the public consultation on the Policy Group’s report. The Report is available on the Department of Health website (www.doh.ie).

Vision and Goals for the Disability Services Programme

The vision proposed by the Review and recommended by the Minister is:

To contribute to the realisation of a society where people with disabilities are supported, as far as possible, 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.

This vision will be underpinned by the following goals:

  1. Full inclusion and self-determination through access to the individualised personal social supports and services needed to live a fully included life in the community.
  2. The creation of a cost-effective, responsive and accountable system which will support the full inclusion and self-determination of people with disabilities.

Implementation Priorities

The Review outlines a set of implementation priorities. Some actions are prioritised because they provide the necessary infrastructure to support other key recommendations, others because they have the potential to result in immediate efficiency savings. The priorities are to:

Immediate Actions

In order to make progress on the implementation priorities, a number of immediate actions have been identified as essential to the process of reforming the Disability Services Programme:

Further information on the report is available on the website of the Department of Health or can be accessed through the following links:

Q& A document:

www.dohc.ie/publications/pdf/VFM_Review_QandA.pdf

Value for Money Report recommendations:

www.dohc.ie/publications/pdf/VFM_Review_Recommendations_MasterList.pdf

Value for Money Report findings:

www.dohc.ie/publications/pdf/VFM_Review_Findings_MasterList.pdf