In June 2011, the HSE published the Report of the Working Group on Congregated Settings - “Time to Move on form Congregated Settings – A strategy for Community Inclusion”. The report sets out what is now the agreed national policy for a new model for residential support in the mainstream community, where people with disabilities are supported to live ordinary lives in ordinary places.
The model envisages that people living in congregated settings will move to dispersed housing in ordinary communities, provided mainly by the housing authorities. These will have the same entitlement to mainstream community health and social services as any other citizen, such as GP services, home help, public health nursing services, access to primary care teams. Persons with disabilities will have access to specialised services based on an individual assessment. They will receive the supports they need to live independently and to be part of their local community.
The move from a residential centre to an ordinary home will involve a significant change for the individuals concerned and their families. The report sets out a process for planning each individual move around the person’s preferences, and for good support through the process of transition. To support this process, the HSE established a broad – based implementation group charged with overseeing the process of transition at national level, and this will be complemented by similar regional and local implementation teams.
The overall objective of the national group is to ensure that following implementation of the recommendations of the report people with disabilities will be actively and effectively supported to live full, inclusive lives at the heart of the family, community and society. They will be able to exercise meaningful choice, equal to those of other citizens, when choosing where and with whom they live. People with disabilities will have the right to direct their own life course.
In line with the report’s recommendations, it is proposed over the seven year time frame 2013 – 2019 to offer residents (living in congregated type setting defined as living arrangements where ten or more people share a single living unit or where the living arrangements are campus based) alternative housing in mainstream community and to close progressively the remaining institutions and residential campuses serving ten or more people.
This commitment is also reflected in the Government’s National Housing Strategy for people with disabilities and associated National Implementation Framework.
Under this strategy, housing authorities have the responsibility for the provision of social housing for people with disabilities, in ordinary homes dispersed throughout the community. HSE – funded disability services, predominately delivered by voluntary agencies will continue to have the responsibility to provide supports to enable people with disabilities to live as independently as possible in the mainstream community.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities acknowledges that enabling people with disabilities to live in and become part of the mainstream community is an important human rights issue. Therefore, it is important that people with disabilities in Ireland are supported to make their own choices, and have the equivalent choices of other adults about where to live and with whom they might share.
The HSE and all relevant stake holders are fully committed to supporting the transition of each individual identified as currently living in a congregated type setting to a more socially inclusive community integrated service over the next number of years.