My priority, as always, is the health and wellbeing of people with a disability. I also want to ensure that people with a disability have greater choice, and I welcome the move away from providing respite in congregated, health service settings, to integrated holiday services that provide people with greater options, alongside the supports they need to maintain independence.
I am very aware of the concerns which both service users and their families have concerning the ability of designated hotels to adequately cope with particular service requirements, particularly those with high dependency needs. I intend meeting management of both the HSE and the IWA over the coming days seeking clarification of service users concerns.
Cuisle is a commercial operation, run by the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA). IWA is funded by the HSE, under a Section 39 service arrangement. The HSE is providing funding of €40m to the IWA in 2019.
The HSE purchases respite breaks from the IWA under this Section 39 arrangement.
I understand that the Board of the IWA has taken the decision 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. 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 service will commence in March 2020 in conjunction with the HSE.
IWA have informed the HSE of the following:
- That it will have an agreement with key hotels resulting in access to several wheelchair accessible hotel bedrooms, providing aids and appliances, including high low beds, hoist, shower chair and commode etc.
- There will also be a team of trained personal assistants available 24 hours a day to meet the requirements of guests.
- Guests will book into the hotel just like everyone else and will be issued with their room and key card.
- They will be met by Irish Wheelchair Association’s trained staff who have a full understanding on their personal support requirements, including medication management and clinical tasks, through the IWA respite booking process.
- IWA has been operating comparable hotel holiday breaks in Kilkenny since 2018 and has received positive feedback across the board from guests.
- 99% of guests said that they would return.