The Minister of State for Disability, Anne Rabbitte, has launched the National Ability Supports System (NASS) report for 2023.

The report, which tracks current use, and future need, for specialist disability services, shows the scale of specialist provision, with almost 32,000 adults availing of a range of services that include personal assistance, home help, day services, multi-disciplinary supports, respite, and residential care.

Tens of thousands of children are also supported through Children’s Disability Network teams.

NASS is a national database that records information about Health Service Executive (HSE) disability-funded services that are received or required as a result of an intellectual disability, developmental delay, physical, sensory, neurological, learning, speech and/or language disabilities or autism.

The purpose of NASS is to gather information to aid the planning, development, and organisation of HSE disability-funded services.

A person is eligible to be registered on NASS if they receive or require (now or within the next five years) a HSE disability-funded service.

The 2023 report is the most comprehensive one to date, with almost 32,000 adults with complex disabilities recorded as receiving or in need of a service.

This is an increase of over 10% in the coverage achieved in the 2022 report and is testament to the great co-operation between the HSE, service providers and the Health Research Board to ensure the data to guide the planning of services are as comprehensive as possible.

Investment over the last three years has seen over 650 extra residential care places in the community as follows:

  • 354 new places, mainly for people who had been living with family
  • 240 transfers from congregated settings to community living
  • 63 younger people with disabilities moved from nursing homes to their own homes
  • 60 people already in residential care were funded for a higher level of support

Minister Rabbitte commented:

I’m pleased to launch the National Ability Supports System report for 2023, which undoubtedly shows a lot done but more to do in meeting the service and support needs of people with disabilities and families across the country.

The great majority of disabled people rely on mainstream health and social care services, but for those with more complex disabilities – around 80,000 of the 1.1m people with a disability recorded in the last Census – my Department, through the HSE, funds a range of specialist disability services.

This year, we will spend a record €2.9bn on these supports.

I have fought for, and secured, additional funding every year since being appointed Minister for Disability in 2020.

The Action Plan for Disability Services 2024-26 is this Government’s blueprint for further investment in building the capacity of our services to support individuals and their families.

The more comprehensive and accurate the data, the better we can plan for future services.

An ongoing issue raised with me is the provision of residential services, so I’m particularly happy to see the increased investment in this space with over 650 additional residential places funded since 2020, which is most welcome.

But this doesn’t mean the work is done.

Our overall population is getting older, and so are people with disabilities, and their family carers.

That means more people will require a disability residential care place when their families can no longer provide support at home.

The practice is that all new housing is located in the community in ordinary homes, in line with our philosophy to support people with disabilities to live ordinary lives in ordinary places.

Overall, the report estimates there are around 1,950 people who will need such a residential place now or in the next five years.

Minister Rabbitte concluded:

I would like to thank all the service users and their families, all the disability service providers who submitted data, and the Health Research Board staff who have compiled and analysed it for this report to give the evidence based to inform future planning of much needed disability services.  concluded Minister Rabbitte.

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