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Doubling in number of older people with disabilities in residential centres in past twenty years simply unacceptable

The number of people over the age of 55 living in residential services has doubled over the last two decades.

Rehab, one of Ireland’s largest charities for people with disabilities, is calling on the HSE to support older people with intellectual disabilities to live in their communities and stop channelling people toward residential care.

Despite the HSE revealing that 36% of older people with disabilities are now living in residential services, compared to just 17% in 1996, their service plan launched today does little to address this issue.

Instead of providing adequate supports to older people to live in their own communities in line with government policy, the HSE’s focus is on providing more of the same. This approach is forcing more people into residential services, often against their will.

Kathleen O’Meara, Rehab’s Director Communications and Public Affairs, said the HSE should prioritise supporting people to live in their own communities in line with government policy.

She said: “We don’t need to institutionalise people with disabilities just because they are getting older. As a society, Ireland needs to get to grips with how best to support people to live at home. We can and should do better. Currently we are failing our most vulnerable members of society.

“People with intellectual disabilities are now living longer. Many will live well into old age. We know of cases where people under the age of 50 with intellectual disability end up in nursing homes just because they don’t have the independent living skills to remain in their homes after their parents pass away. This is entirely inappropriate. It’s all the more damning as we fail to yet again reach our target of ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities.

“Better planning and skills development is not only cheaper than providing a nursing home bed, but leads to a far better quality of life for people as they age,” she added.

For additional information, please contact:

Martin Grant –0877118225 / martin.grant@rehab.ie

Rehab is a charity that champions the value of diversity and inclusion for people with a disability or disadvantage in their communities. Our mission is to help the people we serve to be more independent and to contribute to and be more included in their communities; empowering them with the skills and confidence to be active in the workforce, and supporting them to be in charge of their health and wellness. Over 20,000 people use Rehab's services - children and adults with disability, people on the autism spectrum, and people with mental health difficulties and people who are disadvantaged in some way in the labour market. More than 3,200 employees deliver Rehab's services in over 170 locations in Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales and Poland.


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