The organisation was set up as the Rehabilitation Institute in 1949 to support people recovering from TB to rebuild their lives, to regain their independence and to re-enter the workforce following their illness.
In the early years, Rehab focused on providing training services to support people to enter or to re-enter the workforce.
Throughout its history, Rehab has developed considerable skills and resources in meeting the needs of people who need specific supports to live the lives that they want to live.
Rehab has since expanded its focus to include all people with disabilities and others who are marginalised and, in all, hundreds of thousands of people and their families have benefitted from the services provided by the organisation over the years.
From humble beginnings in a one room centre in Pleasants Street in Dublin providing a service to ten people followed by expansion to two additional centres in Cork and Limerick in 1952, Rehab now provides services in more than 200 locations throughout Ireland, the UK and Poland.
Rehab has transformed into one of Europe’s most dynamic disability organisations. World-class facilities have been put in place throughout Ireland and the UK along with programmes that are often replicated across Europe.
The Rehab Group has diversified considerably, developing sustainable, commercial organisations where people with disabilities and people without disabilities work side by side. Today these organisations operate in a number of areas including recycling, packaging, logistics and retail services.
In 1995, the organisation moved into new areas of service provision, providing people with disabilities and older people with health and social care services such as day, home-based, respite, residential and outreach services.
Rehab has been operating services in the UK since 1990 and continues to provide training, employment and brain injury services to more than 47,000 people throughout the UK.
In Ireland, services are provided by the training and employment division, National Learning Network, the health and social care division, RehabCare and the enterprises division, Rehab Enterprises.
Since its inception, Rehab has been at the forefront of the campaign to give disability its rightful place on the national agenda.
As early as the 1950s, Rehab has sought to influence government policy to significantly improve quality of life for people with disabilities. It has lobbied for the introduction of realistic State payments to those whose disability prevents them from working, along with measures to increase access for people with disabilities to public transport and public buildings.
Today, there is a growing recognition that a broad coalition of all stakeholders in the disability sector is best placed to effect real change and that working together we can achieve so much more. Through such a stakeholder approach, Rehab has played an instrumental role in the development and implementation of the National Disability Strategy which for the first time places disability firmly on the agenda of key government departments.
Over the last 60 years, a huge amount has been achieved by Rehab for people with disabilities. Rehab plans to build on this and to play a key part in shaping a better future for people with disabilities and others who are marginalised for many years to come.