Wednesday 27th November 2019
I want to thank Senators for the opportunity to attend this afternoon.
I welcome the opportunity to re-state this Government’s commitment to supporting people with disabilities and their families.
As Minister for Disabilities I am personally committed to providing services and supports that meet the needs of people with disabilities. Services and supports that will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives.
This is Governments policy, and is what I believe in.
At the heart of this policy are the principles of access to mainstream services and community living.
My priority, as always, is the health and wellbeing of people with a disability.
I am very aware of the concerns which both service users and their families have concerning the decision of Irish Wheelchair Association to transition its holiday service from Cuisle to designated hotels in the west of Ireland. I want to make it absolutely clear to the House that this was a decision made completely by the Board of the Irish Wheelchair Association last month.
Cuisle Accessible Holiday Resort is a commercial operation, run by the Irish Wheelchair Association, from which, I am informed, the HSE purchases respite breaks which are provided by way of a service arrangement.
I met with the CEO of the IWA and HSE representatives on Tuesday 12th of November last, in order to obtain the necessary assurances that service users would be fully accommodated in respect of what is fundamentally the IWA’s plan for a progressive and innovative way to meet the needs of people with a disability that wish to avail of holiday respite breaks.
I believe in ‘people centred’ services and the IWA stressed to me that the clear choice and preference of people with a disability is increasingly more about having variety and choice with access to positive and non-segregated settings and where existing commercial hotel provider settings implement universal design initiatives to accommodate people of all levels of abilities. I was informed by the IWA that one of the significant drivers of the move towards a new Model of Care approach whereby appropriately accessible hotels will be used was that there has been a significant fall off in numbers applying for breaks in Cuisle.
In recent years, there have been positive changes in accessibility standards in Ireland that now present a greater range of choice and options for people with disabilities seeking a holiday or respite.
Consequently, there has been a shift in best practice approaches. This shift is reflected in current HSE policy under ‘Time to Move on from Congregated Settings: A Strategy for Community Inclusion’.
In line with this, Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) has decided to transition its holiday service in the West of Ireland to provide accessible hotel holidays into the future, and to move away from its holiday facility at Cuisle, Co Roscommon.
The IWA did advise me at the meeting a couple of weeks back that Cuisle requires major capital development in respect of fire upgrade works estimated to be in the order of €1.5m. IWA have indicated that this level of capital funding is not available within their current resources. This allied to the fall off in numbers convinced them that their New Model of Care approach was the right one.
Notwithstanding the requirement to ensure regulatory standards are maintained, the HSE have confirmed to IWA that this level of capital investment is not considered viable in the context of other potential alternative service options and models from which to deliver respite services.
IWA is planning to provide a wider range of choice to people with disabilities seeking to take a supported respite holiday in the West of Ireland by partnering with accessible hotels. This new and innovative service will commence in March 2020 in conjunction with the HSE.
IWA has been operating comparable hotel holiday breaks in Kilkenny since 2018 and has received positive feedback across the board from guests. In fact, 99% of guests said that they would return.
This service was also shortlisted for an Irish Healthcare Centre award in 2019. IWA hopes that in the coming years, its accessible hotel holiday service will expand to key destinations across the country.
The move to the new holiday service will mean that the Cuisle buildings will not open in 2020. IWA acknowledges the contribution of staff at Cuisle for their contribution to the respite service in the West of Ireland. Where possible, IWA will offer redeployment opportunities to staff and is engaging with local staff members and their representatives to ensure minimum impact.
And Cathaoirleach, I have been asked to attend for this debate this afternoon, and I am happy to do so. There should be no doubt for anyone listening or watching today, about my commitment to people with disabilities and their families. I am immensely proud to be Minister for Disabilities. I have been inspired by the goals and achievements of the people I have met since my appointment, and I am more determined than ever to realise the priorities agreed by the Government and continuing to make the changes that are needed.
Watch from 04:33:00
Statements on the imminent closure of the Irish Wheelchair Association’s Cuisle Accessible Holiday Resort. (Department of Health)
Watch from 04:33:00
Statements on the imminent closure of the Irish Wheelchair Association’s Cuisle Accessible Holiday Resort. (Department of Health)
Shame on you and the government. To stand by this horrible decision and not stop it, it is a disgrace. How anyone can think it’s a good idea to take people with specific needs, who are totally catered and cared for at Cuisle, and put them into hotels that won’t have specialised staff, is beyond me. At Cuisle, service users are not different, they are comfortable and safe there. The same cannot be said for a hotel. I guarantee that if Cuisle closes, neither Fine Gael or Fianna Fail will ever get a vote from myself, my family and wider family and friends. I will be very vocal against both parties. Again shame on you. Try using a hotel whilst confined to a wheelchair, how will you negotiate the room? How will you negotiate the bathroom? How will you manage a shower? Shame on you all who let this happen.
Absolutely disgusted with this outcome, it is not about the service users, it’s about money. How dare ye take away this wonderful service from those that love it. The service users and their families and communities have spoken, they want this establishment kept open. Listen to the service users not some CEO at the top who hasn’t a clue.
I goto cuisle holiday center every year I feel very comfortable with staff and they are lovely you should save cuisle holiday center for people with disability s its a crying shame its closing down please save it
Minister, if you were really committed to providing services to the needs of people with disabilities, you would be more supportive in obtaining funding for Cuisle. You have no idea what it is like to bring somebody with a disability to a hotel. There is no comparison in the level of service between any hotel and Cuisle.
Minister McGrath with all due respect you are so far removed from the reality of the day to day living of people with disabilities. When you visited the facility there were no clients. Had there been you would have seen the joy & happiness they got to experience with their friends which may of these friendships began in Cuisle. Cuisle is a ray of hope for it’s service users & well deserved break for families. You need to listen to clients of Cuisle & not management. no hotel will EVER match this facility.
I really do hope that a solution can be found. The people of Roscommon & the service users are more than willing to help with fundraising for any necessary repairs.
Very sad news and lack of insight from a minister who should know better, regarding the on going issue with Cúisle. Many families of adults with PD and or IDs depend on this services and mainstream hotels are not suitable for many.
Minister Mcgrath needs to speak with these families rather than management of IWA and out of touch HSE mandrians.
I am appalled you could consider supporting the closure of Cuisle. Do you think for a minute hotel staff could give my sister with cp the personal care she needs entertaining her on her holiday. With so few resources … To take away a resouse that works so well and and so very valued by all. Shame on you !
It looks like you spoke to everyone except for the ones that count, the parents and the service users.
Price of a printer would have covered the cost of continuing services in cuisle
To the so called Minister of Disabilities, you are personally overseeing the closure of the one and only holiday outlets that is suitable for the most vulnerable people in our society, you are a disgrace and this will never be forgotten.
Dear Emmet, this is a decision of the IWA board. As they are a Section 39 organisation, I am prohibited from overruling them.
I am very disappointed and disgusted at your lack of empathy for the moist vulnerable in our society. You are discriminating against handicapped people who, now thanks to you will no longer have the choice to go on a group holiday to meet and enjoy the company of their friends and make new friends. You pedal out the same statement as the iwa, obviously you cannot think for yourself.
100 stroke support group members from Sligo, Roscommon, Ballinalsoe, Longford, Mullingar, Cavan and Monaghan had their Christmas respite break today at Cuisle, it was very clear how emotional the staff were but whilst dealing with the stress of not knowing and hoping for a miracle they still treated our stroke survivors with such professionalism, care and kindness but thats nothing new at Cuisle its embedded into their daily working life! This is a very special place and its a home away from home for respite holidays and for our stroke groups its so important we can go away as a group and with full disability accessible bedrooms and facilities they choose Cuisle for that reason, they ask to go together to share experiences, support one another , build social skills, gain confidence and get respite…and thats our members choice as we ask our members what they want! Its frustrating when our government and national media give more thought and time to a printer than they give to our most vulnerable in society with disabilities shame on them and on you Minister Finian McGrath…why dont you listen to what the members want then make up your own mind, how can you take what the IWA are saying as credible if they did not ask their members? We thank all our local TDs, Councillors that have advocated for our members especially Denis Naughton, Cllr. Orla Leyden , Maura Hopkins…We want to hear real conversation and results not more memos that are been circulated back abd forth as answers, please give us more respect! If you are as passionate about been a Minister for Disabilities prove it and speak to the real victims here that need their voice to be heard! Regards Martina Greene Stroke Support Group Coordinator Irish Heart Foundation #savecuisle
Please Minister think carefully over this situation. The IWA have been running Cuisle down for 2 years. Cuts have been made, like free meals for staff, now paying €5 a meal, hours have been cut for staff. Two deputy managers gone and never replaced , outings for the guests cut from 3 to 2 to now only one day. And to cap that they go to Athlone shopping centre every time. Is it not a wonder that some guests are not returning? Wouldn’t you get bored of going to the same place every time. As a person with mental health issues, change is a big thing, the continuity is vitally important. In the new hotel model, will they get this year after year. I think not!
You mentioned nurses at cuisle… 19 hours per week!
Please please minister think again. Get the real truth from the IWA. THEYVE BEEN RUNNING THIS FACILITY DOWN FOR MORE THAN THE LAST 2 YEARS!
I’m basically speechless here but here goes. … You haven’t a clue minister…. We llove Cuisle.. We all love been together as a group… We don’t want to be split up in hotels… Cuisle is warm.. Inviting and so Cosy.. Have you not listened to a word we are saying here about keeping Cuisle OPEN!!!
You just have no compassion for our plight here have you??, very disgusted with you that you aren’t supporting us carers and our families… You will never get my vote or support ever in your politic career
Minister what you are happy to offer the most vulnerable citizens in this country is minimum standards ie a percentage of rooms in each hotel have to under law have to be accessible. 4 bedrooms in Killkenny and 5 in Ballinasloe.
Please tell me where we can book accommodation for 40 people with disabilities next May and October Bank holiday weekends?
Instead of offering choice, you are allowing the IWA to take away the ONLY choice we had, which is perfect.
What kind of an uncaring hardhearted man are you. You should be ashamed to call your self Minister for disabilities.
But its not too late to redeem yourself, I appeal on you not to allow Cuisle to close.
U have let the most caring people down so badly by proposing to close Cuisle. This holiday centre means so much to the users , their families and their carers. The facilities caters forthe needs of the users. It is a home from-home with staff that have families and who love their jobs and who made each user feel equal. The grounds gave gave them the privacy to enjoy outdoor space. It’s the only centre in Ireland that can cater for large groups and has been used by group all over the country. The catering service was one of the best and was used for wedding, christenings and social gathering. Please rethink ur decision
As a public representative you should listen to the people when they tell you that they want cuisle to be their choice of restbite.cuisle is a national in stituation and as such must be saved regardless of cost or what the IWA says. You should come to Cuisle and see for yourself the good work that is done thete and speakto the people who use cuisle and hear why they want to stay there
This is nothing to do with moving away from congregated services policy. There’s nothing congregated in Cusile. It’s a brilliant centre, please keep it going, not everything in this life about business. Respite services are close to non existent. Please don’t dilute then any further. Families need rest, break from the superb care they provide 24/7 that the government will never be able to provide should home living breaks up.
With the greatest respect, to me minister, it appears that you are missing the point entirely. If I want to cheer myself up, I can book a holiday with my friends. I can book a house, a chalet, or a few apartments. I dont need a lift, special food, nursing assistance or other. I have choices . As a full able bodied person I can take legal action if I am mistreated on holiday or I can choose another venue next time. I can ask for a customised holiday or build my own itinerary. These are not possible for a person needing assistance with hoists and post surgery whose mental well being is one of the most precious commodities there is. Their lives are hard enough. The reassurance that Cuisle provides, the opportunity to make and meet others in a similar boat is priceless. Any psychologist will tell you support groups or individual counselling may help. We as able bodies people can go out and look for friends and choose counsellors and other. But Cuisle provides this in abundance, a known comforting entity. You are standing by on your watch as both physical and mental well being choices are being reduced for people with disabilities. I really cannot understand the logic here.
T..D Finian Mc Grath,
I have just read your statement. On paper all seems justified in denying the continuance of this service to those most in need of it. All ‘justifiex’ unless you are directly affected by the heart-breaking reality of what it means to be in need of special care, in need of reassurance and trust that the people , the facilities and the location are the very best and tailored to meet the individual specific and unique requirements that are essential.
I am not a service user but I do know what it is to feel frightened and out of my depth when necessitating help and support (I list my 8 year old son to cancer following a gruelling three year journey to save him).
I attended the March to Save Cuisle in Toscommon. I was deeply moved by the very genuine and heart-breaking pleas of service users and by the well-researched and plausible arguments put forward by campaigners and local politicians.
Yes, it may well be that there are alternatives that work in other parts of the country … but DO NOT TAKE AWAY EHAT IS WORKING…. IT IS NOT BROKEN AT CUISLE …PLEASE PLEASE ALBEIT AT THE ELEVENTH HOUR … SAVE CUISLE … LET YOUR HEART RULE A D AT LEAST PAUSE THIS CLOSURE FOR NOW.
I am praying to my little hero Shane and have his candles lit …. awaiting a positive response.
Thank you Finian.
A forklift to load paper into a printer is the best idea I’ve heard for a long long time. However, it should be used to help clean out the dry rot that’s at at the helm of nearly all Government organisations and put the dim wits that are trusted with making decisions on behalf of the taxpayer on a mighty big ‘dung’ heap where they belong. Disgusted with you Finian McGrath. Thought you had a little bit more between the lugs
Minister for disabilities.. REALLY??? You haven’t a clue… Have you even visited Cuisle??? You want to put us in hotels.. How is that any way similar to the facilities and hospitality of the wonderful cuisle!!!!
COP on to yourself and help the special nerds groups.. Carers and families that go as big family groups to roscommon… I go with a group of 40 people… What hotel can accomadate us… And the needs that go with that to keep us all together… SAVE CUISLE AND THE 40 wonderfully caring STAFF ALSO… It doesn’t need upgraded… Why do I feel there is more to this story that meets the eye… Something sinister here going on with the IWA… Money involved no doubt to a cash buyer is it!!!?