There are clear economic benefits to ensuring that those who need rehabilitation services as a result of accident, stroke illness or disability receive it in a timely and appropriate fashion speakers from Canada, UK, and Europe today told a RehabCare international conference in Dublin Castle today, hosted on behalf of the European Platform for Rehabilitation (EPR).
Calling for more detailed study of the topic, David McDaid of the London School of Economics said that the information available from international sources indicates that rehabilitation can pay, and that this can strengthen the argument for investment.
He urged that economic evaluation be considered in terms of broader impacts - not just on an individual but on the impact on tax revenues, the need for benefits, need for family care, and cited annual UK figures for disability benefits payments of £19 billion.
This year the Department of Social and Family Affairs is expected to pay out over €1.5 billion in disability and invalidity payments.
Explaining the reasons for the conference, Angela Kerins, RehabCare CEO said: “this demonstrates that early effective rehabilitation services have a positive overall economic impact. Rehabilitation services can be needed for a whole range of reasons, across illness, injury, accident and disability. The need for rehabilitation is very often unexpected and traumatic to the individual and their family. Acute services receive a lot of interest and attention but early and effective rehabilitation services also have a massive long-term impact on people's ability to get on with their lives. They impact on people’s ability to work and to remain economically active as well as on their health and family life.”
She added, “there is a clear argument here for investment in these services and a role for all the stakeholders in ensuring that people have the opportunity to receive these services.”
Professor Ray Kinsella Director of the Centre for Insurance Studies in UCD highlighted the need for timely agreement of funds and cooperation between insurance companies, rehabilitation providers and the state to ensure individuals commence rehabilitation at the earliest possible point.
“Even with a major resource gap - so much lies within our own hands. If we, as stakeholders, take ownership of this silenced disability crisis, we can create the kind of proactive environment, which, while it cannot eliminate the problems for and their families, can significantly reduce the extent, and scope and built-in inequalities that characterise the present situation,” added Professor Kinsella.
He added that this had “a silent impact - but no less urgent compared with the A&E and elective surgery capacity shortfalls - on the quality of lives of those who are seriously disabled.”
Wolfgang Zimmerman from the Canadian Institute of Disability Management outlined global trends in workplace rehabilitation schemes, to ensure the return to the workforce following accident illness or injury.
Today’s conference in Dublin Castle was opened by An Tánaiste and Minister for Health Mary Harney TD.
Addressing the conference, Angela Kerins concluded “Today we are learning from the experience of all stakeholders in rehabilitation- service providers, insurance companies, health economists, employers and service users, on how best to measure and track these benefits. The message is clear- it is in everyone's best interests to ensure equitable access to early rehabilitation services that enable individuals to rebuild their lives and take control.
Amongst the speakers from Canada, and Europe were conference were Stefano Schena, President EPR ; Wolfgang Zimmermann, Executive Director of the National Institute of Disability Management and Research, Canada; George Lee, Economics Editor RTE ; Michael Kemp, Irish Insurance Federation. Organisations represented included Dublin Bus, the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, AXA, AIG and the National Rehabilitation Hospital.
RehabCare and the European Platform for Rehabilitation (EPR) have designed the conference to showcase current studies and practical examples of rehabilitation programmes - both at home and abroad with specific emphasis on programmes that deliver sound economic outcomes.
Note to editors:
RehabCare is the health and social care division of the Rehab Group. It operates a wide variety of responsive health and social care services, which reach into communities across Ireland and the United Kingdom. Each year thousands of people of all ages and from all walks of life avail of these services, which range from residential to community based.
The European Platform for Rehabilitation (EPR) is a network of leading European providers of rehabilitation services to people with disabilities and those who are disadvantaged. These services include vocational training and reintegration into the workforce - as well as medical rehabilitation and social care.