Respite

by Siobhán Kane, Communications & Information Manager, Inclusion Ireland

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Respite is not an additional service that can be seen as an ‘add.on’ or a luxury for people with a disability and their families –it an essential part of an overall service being provided. The needs of children and adults with disabilities vary greatly according to each individual, so the idea that a general figure of €1700 could possibly provide annual respite for everyone, regardless of their support needs, is simply not realistic. Residential respite care can be very expensive in cost terms, and €1700 simply wouldn’t cover a meaningful service for many families. Alternative non-centre-based respite has been explored in many areas in recent years and is often very successful. While this needs to be further built on, many families still feel residential respite is vital. Reducing the amount of respite available will have a very negative effect on the person with a disability and their family. In some parts of the country, families are already paying towards the cost of their respite service. Current reports that the state may stop funding respite in disability services is also very frightening for people with disabilities and their families. There must be ongoing consultation and people cannot feel that decisions affecting them are being made over their head, without their voice being heard.