Statement from National Federation of Voluntary Bodies Providing Services to People with Intellectual Disability, August 2012.
The National Federation of Voluntary Bodies welcomes publication of this important report by Ms Kathleen Lynch, T.D., Minister of State, with responsibility for Disability, Older People, Equality & Mental Health on Friday 20th July, 2012.
It is a comprehensive and extensive report containing a total of 117 recommendations. The overriding focus of these recommendations is on a programme of governance and delivery model change and a detailed upgrading of information.
As a National Federation of Voluntary Service Providers we particularly welcome this focus on governance. The substantial majority of our member organisations were established by parents and friends of people with intellectual disabilities and are, in the main, still governed by parents and friends. The Boards of these organisations are mainly populated by parents and friends and our other member organisations, such as the religious congregations, now also have significant parental representation on their Boards. Therefore, from their inception, voluntary service providers have been embedded in local communities and continue to be well placed in understanding and responding to local needs in communities as envisaged in the new policy direction.
The report concentrates on the high level end strategic issues but, does highlight the current inadequacies regarding information systems in place by HSE. Federation members are committed to providing all necessary information required in identifying current needs and planning for changing and future needs. We worked collaboratively with the HSE in the development of comprehensive Service Level Agreement (SLA) templates. We were also at the forefront in the development of the National Intellectual Disability Database (NIDD) and remain committed to the further development of both the SLA template and the NIDD as they are reconfigured to take account of the new policy initiatives.
The report proposes the development of a National Resource Allocation Model based on a standardised assessment of need process and a methodology for associating standard costs with assessed needs. We welcome this move to a more individualised approach in the allocation of resources however, it is critically important that adequate resources are in place to ensure an effective transition to individualisation. While we are not supportive of the block grant allocation system it has in the past given service providers some flexibility, through some cross-subsidisations, in responding to un-resourced need, for example in responding to the needs of school leavers in the current year without any additional resources. It needs to be fully understood in the move to “fund individuals rather than places” that this flexibility will be eliminated.
Within the implementation plan there is to be an immediate focus on achieving efficiencies in agency rosters and pending the development of an effective national resource allocation model, it is recommended that the Service Level Agreement should be used to reduce current direct pay costs. We are happy to work collaboratively with the HSE in trying to achieve these efficiencies however, in the context of an aggregate 14% cut in funding over the past 4 years, voluntary agencies have scrutinised staff rosters exhaustively and, in any event, terms and conditions of employment which are agreed nationally prohibit publicly funded agencies from unilaterally changing aspects of premium pay, increments, etc.
The report notes a spending increase of some 33.7% in disability services over the period 2005 – 2009. While there was a substantial increase in the range of services developed during this time, in our view, this significant increase in spending is largely attributable to the implementation of national pay agreements across all the staff categories. It is also noteworthy that during this time of significant growth service providers invested heavily in the development of quality systems within services to the extent that the majority of Federation member organisations have now achieved quality accreditations.
The National Federation of Voluntary Bodies continues to be committed to the provision of high quality services that respond to the individual needs of people with intellectual disability.