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Funding hinders plan to improve services for ‘vulnerable deaf adults’

A lack of funding has contributed to slow progress in implementing recommendations put forward by a 2015 working group to improve health services for vulnerable deaf adults, a parliamentary question (PQ) response has revealed. In response to a PQ put forward by Fianna Fáil Deputy John Lahart about the recommendations, the HSE’s Head of Operations for Disability Services, Dr Cathal Morgan, said that the HSE requested additional funding to contribute to the recommendations in the 2018 and 2019 estimates to the Department of Health. However, the additional funding requests were denied on both occasions by the Department.

Among the recommendations put forward by the working group, which comprised representatives from a number of deaf advocacy groups and the HSE, was the proposal to establish a rehabilitation service in Dublin accommodating a maximum of four vulnerable deaf residents. This was to be delivered in 2016. Another recommendation was to develop four or more medium-high support centres accommodating 15 adults who were identified as needing this service on an urgent or short-term basis.

Dr Morgan’s response stated that “the implementation of recommendations continues to be managed through available resources”.

He wrote that care for vulnerable deaf adults continues to be available through acute, primary care and community-based services, specialist disability services, and voluntary and community groups.

“Vulnerable deaf adult” is defined as a deaf adult whose first language is sign language and who cannot live independently and safely without supports.

HSE Disability Operations is involved in a joint initiative with Chime to develop housing and support options for existing service users.

According to Dr Morgan’s response, one of these steps is that Chime will work with an existing housing body to identify living spaces for “potential existing service users” to use on a “tenancy basis”, such as home-sharing.

Another step in this development is that the HSE aims to work to “realign existing resources” and “consider any setup costs” required to begin the necessary support arrangements.

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