Reduced Day Service Hours: update

Last week we met with Ministers O Gorman and Rabbitte and highlighted the increasingly negative effect the lack of day services has had on our members and their families.

Thank you to everyone who has kept us informed of the delayed reopening and significantly reduced level of service that is now being offered to adults with Down syndrome attending day services. We used this information, along with the results of the Day Service Survey, to highlight the issues that are facing adults with Down syndrome and their families at our recent meeting with Ministers O’Gorman and Rabbitte. We described the negative impact of the lack of routine and sense of purpose, regression and deteriorating mental health for our members and the burnout and exhaustion reported by carers.

We also relayed your concerns around balancing work commitments and filling the gaps left by the reduced level of service. We talked about the fact that many of our members are not happy spending extended periods of time home alone, which impacts on the ability of family carers to return to work.

Even when services are available, the lack of safe transport provision makes them inaccessible for more than a third of families. We highlighted the huge difficulty many people will have in attending services without transport being provided.

Although some services have been proactive in staying in contact online, an overwhelming majority of members (93%) made it clear in our survey they didn’t want to receive their day service over the internet going forward, so it was important to be able to highlight that adults with Down syndrome do not consider this to be an acceptable option.

DSI highlighted the need for additional funding to enable Day Services to safely return to the level of service previously provided. Minister Rabbitte informed us that they were working with services to provide additional hours. She stated that service providers need to apply for additional funding where there is a need for more services than they can safely provide within their existing budget.

It is important for families to inform day services where the reduced level of service is insufficient to meet their needs, even when this seems obvious. If you feel you have not been heard, put your request for additional support in writing and if you are not happy with the response from the service provider, inform your local HSE Disability Services Manager.

Please contact our Adult Advocacy Officer, Helena Connors at helena@downsyndrome.ie or 086 464 9408 for further information.