Inclusion News

by Siobhan Kane

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New Toolkit on workplace bullying

A new training toolkit has been launched that aims to tackle workplace bullying of adults with an intellectual disability. It is aimed at employers, trainers and support staff. The project is called ‘Let me be Me’, and is funded by the European Commission under the Leonardo da Vinci fund. The training toolkit, which is available online, is divided into five modules, and provides background information on the problem, its nature and the extent in Europe, current projects, initiatives and approaches to tackling workplace bullying and best practice Europe-wide. It also gives practical guidance and resources for trainers working with groups of people with an intellectual disability, and employers working in the field of supported employment. The toolkit is available in English, German, Spanish and Portuguese, and aims to do the following:
• better equip people with an intellectual disability on what is defined as bullying;
• help maintain and sustain the employment of people with an intellectual disability;
• increase the confidence and skills of people with an intellectual disability;
• gain an in-depth understanding of the issue of bullying and how it affects the lives of people with an intellectual disability;
• transfer (including adaptation) existing training materials to create a new resource for learning and training;
• promote the widespread uptake and use of the training course focusing on member countries of the European Union of Supported Employment;

More details on the project are available at www.letmebeme.eu/en/, where you can also download the toolkit.

Minister says State cannot afford to widen eligibility for Disability Allowances

Despite serious concerns raised by the Ombudsman over the legality of restricting two allowances so as older people cannot apply, Health Minister James Reilly has said the State cannot afford to widen eligibility. Funding for the mobility allowance and the motorised transport grant is currently €10-6 million a year, and widening eligibility would cost the exchequer €500 million over three years, Dr Reilly told an Oireachtas committee.

Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly was heavily critical of the exclusion of older people from eligibility for the allowances, saying it contravened equality legislation. The Department of Health said the number of recipients of the mobility allowance could increase from the current 4,700 to 63,500 if eligibility was widened, and the numbers availing of the motorised transport grant could rise from 300 to 19,250-

Man with Autism to take High Court action on circumstances of his arrest

A man with autism has been cleared to take High Court action over circumstances when he was arrested. The High Court action is for false imprisonment, intentional trespass to the person, negligence and breach of duty. It is claimed that no effort was made by Gardai to contact his parents before he was arrested under the Mental Health Act. The man is 27 and was arrested by Gardaí after allegedly chasing two women with a stick. It is claimed he was subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment through the use of handcuffs to restrain him when he was conveyed to a garda station and held for nearly an hour before his parents arrived. The man is suing the gardai and the State through his testamentary guardian and next friend. His guardian said the man has very high support needs.

When Gardaí attempted to speak with the man about the alleged incident, the officer arrested him under the Mental Health Act, handcuffed him, and brought by patrol car to the local station. When another officer at the station recognised him, his parents were contacted. The man asserts that no effort was made by the arresting Garda to speak with his parents, and that as a result of his detention in unusual surroundings, he was caused acute and unusual distress.

Magdalenes Report shows 107 women and girls with an intellectual disability in Laundries

The ‘Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee to establish the facts of State involvement with the Magdalene Laundries’ was published on the 5th February. The Committee was chaired by former Senator Martin McAleese. Approximately 10,000 women and girls entered Magdalene laundries since 1922 and the Report found “significant” State involvement in the laundries.

Mr. McAleese said the women admitted to the laundries “have for too long felt the social stigma” of the “wholly inaccurate characterisation” of them as “fallen women”. He said this characterisation was “not borne out of facts.”

The committee found a wide range of reasons women and girls entered the 10 religious run laundries operating in the State between 1922 and 1996. Reasons included referrals from industrial and reformatory schools, rejection by foster parents, abuse in the home, being orphaned, and having intellectual or physical disabilities. Referrals were made or facilitated by the State in 26.5% of cases for which reasons are known. Almost 7% of these referrals came from health and social services. The Report said some women were referred to laundries by the health and social services because it was cheaper than State-run facilities. The report found direct State involvement in: routes of entry, workplace regulations and inspections, funding and financial assistance to laundries, routes of exit, death registrations.

The route of entry into the laundries was known in 8,025 cases, but unknown in an additional 3,173 cases. Of those cases that route of entry is known, 107 women entered Magdalenes from “psychiatric hospitals and institutions for intellectually disabled”. The youngest person to enter Magdalenes from such institutions was 14, and the oldest was 50-

Among the extracts relating to women with a disability was that in 1953 the Dublin Health Authority proposed financial support to Magdalenes in the form of a contribution: “towards the maintenance of the 32 totally disabled persons, none of whom have any income and who are by residence in an Institution precluded from receiving a Disabled Persons (Maintenance) Allowance”. The level of payment proposed was a grant “at an approximate weekly rate of 30/-d. for each disabled person, that is £2,500 in a full financial year”. The approval of the Department of Health was sought for this proposal.

At the time of writing Taoiseach Enda Kenny was due to make a statement on the findings of the Report, and was being pushed to apologise on behalf of the State.

Lynch welcomes new disability and mental health initiatives in HSE South

Minister of State, Kathleen Lynch with responsibility for Disability, welcomed the publication today of the HSE South Regional Service Plan. The Plan highlights a number of new initiatives in the areas of disability and mental health despite the Region operating from a reduced financial position. This has been achieved through careful consideration and input from HSE senior managers and clinicians, and through the ongoing development of close working relationships and partnerships with groups and associations in the voluntary sector.

The new initiatives include:
Disability
• The transitioning of 10 adults with an intellectual disability from Grove House into community based, inclusive and person centred services with the support of the COPE Foundation team
• The opening of an 8 bedded regional specialised therapeutic service for Cork and Kerry to support adults with intellectual disability who present behaviour that challenges
• In line with the congregated setting policy, A Time to Move On, the implementation of 11 demonstration projects in partnership with Genio, to lead on the move towards a person-centred model of service and support

Mental Health
• A new replacement acute inpatient unit to be developed at Cork University Hospital commencing in March
• A reconfiguration of acute in-patient services away from old institutional settings towards modern community based services
• Development of plans for more appropriate modern residential services and a move away from long term hostel accommodation
• The move to a 7 day service Acute Day Service in Day Hospitals
• Appropriate allocation from the additional 2013 €35m national funding for mental health to be utilised in 2013 to enhance Community Mental Health Team capacity in General Adult and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, to support the development of services for older people with a mental illness, those with an intellectual disability and mental illness and forensic services.
• Further investment will also be made in implementing the recommendations of the suicide prevention strategy Reach Out.
• The establishment of a comprehensive community-based, person centred response to dementia in Kinsale in partnership with K-CORD

Welcoming the publication of the Plan, Minister Lynch said “as Minister of State with responsibility for Disability and Mental Health I am especially pleased to see the improvement in disability and mental health services that are envisaged in the Plan. These improvements will, I believe, enhance care and treatment for service users across the HSE South Region. Progress thus far has been achieved by working together in partnership at local and regional level and I look forward to supporting this work into the future”.

Major audit in HSE South

The HSE internal audit section has asked the HSE finance unit to ensure all voluntary and charity groups hand over a “minimum set of information to the public” to guarantee transparency, following an audit in the HSE South area. The Irish Examiner newspaper published findings from a HSE audit of a number of groups, including disability organisations. The audits were conducted in 2010 and 2011, and involved 17 groups in the HSE South region. The organisations in question weren’t named. Among the findings was that of “serious fraud” at one organisation.

Among the other issues revealed as a result of the audit, are that a third of the organisations audited are allowing some of their members’ pay to exceed strictly set levels.

Issues were also raised over staff vetting, as one organisation said staff working since before 2001 were not vetted, and that it was awaiting guidance from the HSE over the matter. The audit also found that “the majority of agencies surveyed showed significant cash/bank balances”, and the report said following on from this, there is potentially room to reduce grant payments to those groups. The report highlighted that income some of the organisations receive from other funds, is “often not sufficiently analysed”. Among the report’s recommendations, are that each organisation publishes its full policies and audited financial statements.

Inclusion Ireland publishes Position Paper on National Disability Strategy

Inclusion Ireland has published a position paper that sets out what Government must address in a new implementation plan for the 2004 National Disability Strategy (NDS). The current government is committed to publishing an implementation plan for the NDS. Inclusion Ireland has contributed to the drafting of an implementation plan through its participation on the Disability Stakeholders Group.

As a national organisation advocating for the rights of people with intellectual disabilities, Inclusion Ireland sets out in the position paper, what the Government’s implementation plan for the NDS must address. Among other issues, the document examines the failure to fully implement the legislative commitments in the NDS, and the number of important policy developments since the launch of the NDS in 2004, including the Congregated Settings Report, the New Directions Report on day services, and the Value for Money and Policy Review of Disability Services. Another very important development is Ireland signing up the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability. The document is available at www.inclusionireland.ie or in hard copy format by calling the Inclusion Ireland office on 01-8559891.

3% disability employment target reached for the first time in public service

2011 is the first year the target of 3% employment of people with disabilities in the public sector was reached, since it was introduced in 1977. The 3% target was implemented to ensure that the public service plays its part in providing jobs for people with disabilities. It was made a statutory requirement from 2006. The target was achieved in a number of ways, including initiatives to improve policies to recruit and to retain staff with disabilities, to accommodate staff with disabilities to do their work, and to make public sector workplaces more disability-friendly.

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