Current respite levels
‘financially unsustainable’

The MONASTEREVIN-based Muiríosa Foundation has defended changes to its services for people with disabilities and children with special needs insisting to Government cuts has left it with no choice.

The MONASTEREVIN-based Muiríosa Foundation has defended changes to its services for people with disabilities and children with special needs insisting to Government cuts has left it with no choice.

In a statement replying story in last week’s Leinster Express, Mr Brendan Broderick, Muiríosa chief executive, said the charity has has lost 15 per cent of its funding over the past four year and could lose 30 per cent of its funding by the end of 2014. Many current arrangements will have become financially unsustainable well before that point, particularly respite.

Mr Broderick said that professionally staffed, centre-based respite is only one of a number of possible ways of delivering respite support to families. He said that Muiriosa does not “significantly ramp-up our capacity to deliver respite supports to people in ways other than the professional staffed centre-based house, families will find themselves receiving ever decreasing rations of respite as service providers struggle to cope with the impact of successive annual cuts in their funding,” he said.

While professionally staffed centre-based respite is very expensive he said some people with disabilities need respite delivered in this way. However, the vast majority of people who are currently availing of centre-based respite do not require this level of professionalised support.

HE said that of the 36 families availing of our respite house for children in Laois, only 5 of them fall need that level of support

“One of the ironies of the current situation is that some of the people with the strongest claim on requiring respite to be delivered in this particular way (i.e. in the centre-based respite house) are not actually getting their fair share of access to respite,” he said.

Mr Broderick said families and the general public “probably have a poor appreciation” of the actual costs involved in providing respite in this way, especially on Sundays (which attract double pay rates). To offer respite to four people in a respite houses on a recent Sunday involved 5 staff members, each working between 8 hours and 12.25 hours. The highest paid person earned €615.00 for her work on the day.

He said the €1,500.00 it costs to accommodate for people for an overnight weekday respite could purchase 5 hours of in-home support for 20 families on a Saturday night. The same money could also enable us to offer 6 families a 5-day respite break or would probably provide a Friday to Sunday break for 3 adults in a 4 star hotel.

He said it was the description of Share-a-Break families as “unqualified members of the public in totally inappropriate settings”, was “bewildering and very sad comment from a parent representative body”. He said the very best support, care, and quality of life is delivered to citizens with intellectual disability by their families in their own family home.

“The most professional of services, even when operating at peak performance, struggle to come anywhere near this level of quality,” he said..

Mr Broderick said ordinary families who respond to the needs of their family member with an intellectual disability so wonderfully – unlike Share-a-Break families – are not systematically selected, have no advance preparation, are not vetted or monitored.

“We have been running Share-a-Break schemes in the midlands for over 25 years. In 2011, almost 70 families received regular Share-a-Break through this scheme. Families and children report very high levels of satisfaction. The costs involved range between €40.00 to €60.00 per night. Clearly, families are not attracted to become involved in this scheme for financial reasons,” he said..

Share-a-Break can offer respite to four children at an overnight cost of €200.00 to €250.00. He said €1,500.00 applied in a Share-a-Break context can provide overnight respite to at least 30 children.