People with disabilities are losing out on housing opportunities due to a lack of co-ordination between health and housing authorities, Inclusion Ireland told the Oireachtas Committee on Disability Matters today.

Many people with intellectual disabilities require a package of supports to be made available to facilitate independent living. Without an offer of support, many people are losing out when offered social housing.

Speaking to the Committee, Lorraine Dempsey, interim CEO of Inclusion Ireland, said that despite a Government policy to end congregated living for people with disabilities by 2018, thousands are stuck in congregated living settings due to a lack of supports.

“One of the biggest barriers faced by people with intellectual disabilities in accessing accessible social housing is the lack of availability of support services that are required to live in their own home.  For people who need supports in their home they have no clear pathway of applying for these supports. Through our advocacy work we have found that many people report being highly placed on social housing waiting lists due to their disability but then cannot live in a local authority home due to support services not being available to facilitate them living there. This must be addressed.

“The Government policy ‘Time to Move on from Congregated Settings’ was clear in recommending that all congregated settings would be closed by 2018. This has not happened. In total 8,300 people live in residential services and an additional 1,500 people with a disability under the age of 65 live in nursing homes. According to HIQA these figures include up to 2,900 living in congregated settings. The UNCRPD is clear in its opposition to institutional living and on the right of persons with disabilities to a life in the community.

“It is imperative that the Irish State ceases with the continued use of institutions which are a clear breach of domestic and international rights and increases funding to accelerate the deinstitutionalisation process.”

Inclusion Ireland raised a number of issues affecting people with intellectual disabilities at the Committee hearing, including the need to ratify the optional protocol of the UNCRPD, and the need for enhanced specialised intellectual disability mental health services post-Covid, and the importance of fully commencing the Assisted Decision Making Act by funding the Decision Support Service – the continued failure to fully commence the Act has meant that many people with impaired capacity have had their decision making rights stripped from them by being made a Ward of Court. Important life decisions such as where to live, open a bank account and consent to medical treatment are no longer theirs to make.

Inclusion Ireland’s submission to the Disability Matters Committee can be found here.

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