Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Health and Mental Health Dr. Keith Swanick says that it is time for the Government to re-double its efforts to support individuals living in disability homes and to put an end to the congregated settings they are living in.
Senator Swanick made the comments as the Seanad debated the Health Amendment Bill. He said, “I along with my party will be supporting this bill. However more time is required as a result of the fact that there are so many residential centres that are still non-compliant with HIQA regulations.
“While I appreciate that measures are being taken to make such centres compliant, it is unfortunate that the deadline needs to be extended by a further two years. In 2014 we had the horrendous debacle of the Aras Attracta controversy. Their treatment flies in the face of any semblance of human nature. Regressive, neglectful care such as was highlighted cannot be tolerated.
“The answer is to move away from the congregated setting model and opt towards more supported placements in the community. Ideally what we would like to see are more people with disabilities living independently with less need for residential centres. However as long as we have congregated care centres it is important that they be well regulated and remain compliant with such regulation.
“At present the number of people living in congregated settings is 2,725. The programme for Government states that their objective is to reduce this figure by at least one third by 2021. At this rate it will be 2031 before everyone is out of congregated settings.
“It is not long ago since the UN Special Committee on torture issued a report which came extremely close to calling institutionalism itself a form of torture. We must be mindful to respect the trauma that residents can experience when being moved to unfamiliar surroundings and be aware that unsupported relocation causes great stress.
“It is time to re-double the efforts to end congregated settings. It is time to redirect funds out of this malfunctioning and often antiquated system. Efforts must be concentrated on assisting the people who can instigate change for the betterment of the patients and to ensure they are listened to through assisted decision making legislation.”