Supporting families

by Stephen Kealy

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There is a enormous reluctance among providers to promote good news stories from their services. The level of anxiety among parents, employees and the general public definitely need to hear good news at a time of gloom and doom.

There are many examples of good news stories from around the country but people seem reluctant to share with others what is happening in their part of the country.

Issue 80 of Frontline does have some good news stories from people advocating for themselves to an outline of the achievements of Inclusion International. These stories are against the continuing backdrop of what will happen in 2011, after the Budget.

It is hard to grasp all that could be achieved and converted to good news stories for the country if vast amounts of money did not have to be borrowed to maintain solvency. The forced choices the electorate will eventually have to make to achieve solvency will mean in practice the poor, vulnerable and disabled will be less secure. The philosophy underpinning a society does determine how helpless members are cared for. It is imperative the present constraints on the national wealth do not foster public attitudes that will offer few buoyancy aides to those in greatest need.

People with Intellectual Disabilities can be exposed to domestic violence, neglect and the collective abuse of indifference. The National strategy on domestic and gender-based violence further highlights the continuing importance of actively supporting the person in their daily lives but within the context of standards. The financial constraints under which many families operate, and indeed services, will also mean curtailment of choice, perhaps even the reduction of frontline staff. Reducing income could increase the stress under which people try to fulfil the caring requirements for the disabled person and thus heightening possible increased risk for their personal safety. Standards, officially audited, will provide a safety net to minimise such risk particularly as the HSE is forced to make increasing and more focussed cost savings in all sections of service provisions. Is it possible for these savings to be achieved without a serious impact on frontline services for vulnerable people?

‘Hope is the bedrock of this nation; the belief that our destiny will not be written for us, but by us; by all those men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is; who have the courage to remake the world as it should be’ (Barack Obama). Parents played a very active and central role in the development of services in this country for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Is it now time for parents to yet again to become actively involved?

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