Monday 27 January 2020

Respite fee to hit families hard

Limerick mother Avril Webster says respite is a lifeline for families who take care of their children at home.

Her son Stephen (14) avails of the respite and she warns the new fee of €22 a night is coming out of the family budget and it affects their quality of life.

"We can pay the €22 but other families cannot so they are without this vital support," she explained.

The Department of Health documents also revealed how charities, which have had their HSE budgets reduced, are facing a rising pay bill because they have to give public service rate increments to staff. These costs are running into hundreds of thousands of euro a year for each charity -- and making inroads into funds which could be used for frontline care.

The documents revealed how the Brothers of Charity service decided in 2009 not to pay the increments but this was overturned by the Labour Court, which stated they be restored with retrospective effect, costing €863,000.

Disability services are being hit with a national 3.7pc cut in funding from the Health Service Executive (HSE) this year and have been told there is scope that 2pc of this could be protected through more efficiency.

However, the HSE warned that some reductions in service will be "unavoidable" and this will impact on respite services, day and residential services.

The long awaited Value for Money audit of disability services is due to be finalised next month. It will be the first ever independent evaluation of services.

Irish Independent

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