Health services for people with disabilities
The Health Service Executive (HSE) provides a range of services for people with intellectual, physical and sensory disabilities or autism. These services include basic health services as well as assessment, rehabilitation, income maintenance, community care and residential care.
Some services are provided directly by the HSE. Many of the community, residential and rehabilitative training services are provided by voluntary organisations with grant aid from the HSE. The level of service varies considerably throughout the country.
HSE Administrative Areas have appointed Disability Services Managers to co-ordinate the delivery of services to people with disabilities.
General health services
People with disabilities are entitled to general health services on the same basis as everyone else. These services include:
- Medical cards
- Prescribed drugs, medicines, medical aids and appliances
- Hospital services
- Dental services, optical services and aural services
Community care services
People with disabilities are entitled to avail of the range of community care services. In many cases, they have priority in access to the services.
People with disabilities who are unable to live at home may be provided with residential services directly by the HSE or, on its behalf, by voluntary organisations that are funded by the HSE. A residential service is where someone lives most or all of the time. Long stay charges may apply.
The HSE has appointed an independent Confidential Recipient to whom anyone can make a complaint or raise concerns about the care and treatment of any vulnerable person receiving residential care that is funded by the HSE.
The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) regulates all residential services for children and adults with disabilities, whether provided by the HSE, voluntary groups or private organisations.
These may include:
- Institutions, which usually provide accommodation for 10 or more people
- Clustered housing, or housing associated with an institution (it may be on the grounds of or near the institution)
- Supported community living, which is houses within an ordinary neighbourhood that may have supports for the people with disabilities living there
- Residential respite services
HIQA has set National Standards for Residential Services for Children and Adults with Disabilities. It is responsible for registering, inspecting and monitoring residential services.
HIQA does not have the legal power to investigate individual complaints but it does have a process for raising concerns about a service and it examines any information it receives.
Healthcomplaints.ie has more information about raising concerns about residential services.
For more information on the range of supports available for people with disabilities, in health and other areas, see the Guide to entitlements for people with disabilities (pdf).