Besieged by chronic underfunding, Rehab Group, the largest provider of care services for people with disabilities in Ireland, was forced to tell its funder, the HSE, that unless it receives an urgent injection of cash it had no choice but to cease providing all care within 12 months. It was an unprecedented decision in the history of the relationship between voluntary service providers and their funders in Ireland.
After an extensive nationwide campaign agreement was reached with an additional €2million secured this year to fund RehabCare’s services. Rehab Group and its Board are deeply relieved that these critical care services for more than 3,000 people throughout 117 locations can now continue to be provided.
Agreement reached to fund RehabCare services following talks with Health Minister, Simon Harris and Disability Minister, Finian McGrath
Rehab to continue to provide vital services to 3,000 adults and children with disabilities across 147 services in 26 counties
Rehab Group and its Board of Directors has confirmed that an agreement was reached this evening at a meeting with Health Minister, Simon Harris and Disability Minister Finian McGrath which means RehabCare can continue to provide services to the 3000 people who need them.
Today’s agreement secures an additional €2million this year to fund RehabCare’s services. Rehab Group and its Board are deeply relieved that these critical care services for more than 3,000 people throughout 117 locations can now continue to be provided.
Without RehabCare, the future of life-changing supports would be at risk. This includes vital respite and residential services for 186 children, many with high-support needs. It includes day services for more than 1,600 adults along with supported accommodation services which allows hundreds of people to live independently in their communities, some after leaving decades of institutional care.
Rehab Group CEO, Mo Flynn said “We welcome the fact that we have reached a resolution today and that we can now continue to provide these vital services to the people who rely on them. The news will come as an enormous relief to the people in our services, their families and our dedicated staff who have worked so hard to campaign for the continuation of their services.”
A meeting was held with Rehab, Health Minister, Simon Harris, Minister of State for Disability Issues, Finian McGrath and HSE officials this evening in relation to Rehab’s campaign to save vital services for 3,000 adults and children with disabilities across 147 services in 26 counties.
The Group has been calling on Minister Harris to intervene to save its care services by instructing the HSE to providing €2 million additional funding per annum to bridge an unsustainable deficit.
While some good progress was made at this evening’s meeting more time is needed for further discussions. To this end, there will be a final meeting this Tuesday, May 21st in a bid to reach resolution.
We remain hopeful a solution will be identified which will safeguard these critical services for the 3000 people in our care, and our 1,500 staff. We will continue to fight for the funding of these services which are so critical to the people we serve.
The future of vital and often life-changing care services for 3,000 vulnerable people with disabilities, including almost 200 children, this week hang in the balance.
Besieged by chronic underfunding, Rehab Group, the largest provider of care services for people with disabilities in Ireland, was forced to tell its funder, the HSE, that unless it receives an urgent injection of cash it has no choice but to cease providing all care within 12 months. It is an unprecedented decision in the history of the relationship between voluntary service providers and their funders in Ireland.
It is one which was weighed down with the knowledge of the upset and anxiety the news will bring to the people in our services, their often hard-pressed families and our 1,500 staff, who almost universally provide their labour at below the going rate as successive governments fail to recognise their value or role.
The Rehabilitation Institute first opened its doors in 1949 to support people recovering from TB to rebuild their lives, to regain their independence and to re-enter the workforce following their illness. We are now staring down the barrel of closing those doors more than seven decades later. This was a deeply difficult and wounding decision for our organisation.
Having continued to try to meet the burgeoning need in the community in the form of respite, day services, resource and supported accommodation services to adults and children during a recessionary hit country beset by crippling cuts it is no surprise we have ended up with such a hole in our finances.
In recent years, necessary regulation has been introduced, but with it came a serious imbalance of heavily staffed regulatory bodies not being matched by the requisite supports to assist hugely under-resourced charities. Chronic underfunding of the many organisations providing vital services to disabled citizens has created a situation now where many services are now operating on financial life-support.
Anecdotally, we understand that the combined deficit among Section 39 disability providers stands at €30m, while a number of organisations are existing on loans from the funder. We are aware that the HSE itself could run the services we currently operate, or they could be put out to tender for other providers or for the private sector to run them.
But we believe that this is not necessary, and would not represent good value for money. Being a voluntary not-for-profit, we are not in the business of making profits. In 2012, as the downturn in the economy bit, we lost valuable sources of independent income that we had been able to draw upon to enhance the quality of the services we provide for the HSE.
These included income from the Charitable Lotteries Fund, and later from a service we ran in Saudi Arabia as well as from other fundraising, which together at their height brought in millions of euro. These meant we could carry the underfunding of RehabCare, but not anymore, as this income has dried up. This was preceded by the HSE’s decision in 2010, to stop paying annual increments to take account of inflation.
This impacted at a rate of 2.5% every year and we picked up that cost. Our sector has always been committed to providing high-quality services. We bring this commitment, and our core values, to work every day. We believe we are best placed to provide these services, but we must be properly funded to do so to the best possible standard, a standard set by the State’s own agencies.
Indeed, a recent benchmarking exercise conducted by Mazars to evaluate Rehab Group’s position relative to all similar organisations in Ireland revealed that Rehab demonstrated good value for money. Without the services that RehabCare provides, people with disabilities would lose contact with their communities and become isolated; families would get no respite from the grind of providing round-the-clock care for children or family members with often very high support needs; people would continue to languish in wholly unsuitable and often inhumane institutional settings.
The crisis in our sector will not come as news to the HSE nor to the health minister. We have been engaging with the HSE for years and have alerted them that underfunding has forced us to use our reserves to fill the gap. The health minister was informed last July that if sufficient funding is not provided to RehabCare in 2019, the Board will be left with no choice but to terminate contracts as continuing to operate, while knowing that we are running out of cash, is contrary to the strict rules of company law which bind our board.
By issuing this notice, and going public with it, the Rehab Group is drawing attention to a growing crisis in the independent not-for-profit sector, on which the State relies to provide disability services; a crisis which has brought many organisations to the brink of financial sustainability, a crisis which must be addressed urgently.
The report of the independent review group on the relationship between the voluntary sector and the State, chaired by Catherine Day and published in January of this year, recommended a new funding approach be adopted by the State for the provision of social care services.
We welcome this, as well as the recommendation for multi-annual funding, rather than the year in-year out battle to secure sufficient funds to simply survive.
We are not walking away from our commitment to 3,000 people, their families or our staff. We want to continue to provide quality day, person-centred services to people with disabilities all over Ireland. Our staff are hugely committed and our Hiqa record is very good.
But we cannot do so unless there is a recognition, at a political level, that the whole disability sector needs an urgent injection of funding, and needs it now.
How the Government responds to the issue of the under funding of the disability sector will be a vivid illustration of whether the recent ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was sincere, or just optics.
Mo Flynn is CEO of Rehab Group
RehabCare is very important to me because it helps to support me in many ways. The service has helped me to gain more confidence and gain more knowledge on different topics.
Saoirse Duffy, from Arklow, says RehabCare has changed her life in many ways.
There are so many fascinating aspects to RehabCare such as the English elements such as comprehension and creative writing. I also enjoy getting so many opportunities to go to the library and I also enjoy the arts and crafts. The outreach work also helps me gain more confidence such as being able to use public transport and to be able to gain more independence.
The service helps people with disabilities to access further education and to get a job. If there was no service thousands of people would be deprived of opportunities that are very beneficial to them. We need to get as many people as possible involved in the #SaveRehabCare campaign because the service is very important to all the service users. If the service were to close down where would all the people who use the service go? People with disabilities can struggle greatly to progress further in life due to the many challenges they face on a daily basis.
The service is very important to people with disabilities because if there is no service how are disabled people going to get the support they need in order to progress further? Everyday RehabCare is progressing us further and further. New programmes get introduced and the individuals of the service gain new skills. More and more disabled people are progressing further in life due to what the service has to offer.
People often have misconceptions about disabled people. They need to see life from the disabled person’s point of view. They need to imagine themselves in their shoes and rather focusing on their weaknesses, they need to focus on their strengths.
What skills does the disabled person have to offer?
The answer to this question is a lot more than you realise. We all have strengths and weaknesses, that is what makes us human. We need to see the potential in every person despite their disability. We need to acknowledge the achievements of the individual. What can this person do instead of what can’t this person do. Thinking of the glass as half full rather than half empty. Being optimistic rather than pessimistic.
This is why it’s so important to keep RehabCare because it will help disabled individuals reach their goals. The service gives them a positive perspective about the world. We need to stay motivated on the #SaveRehabCare campaign.
Following a meeting with Health Minister, Simon Harris this evening (7 May, 2019), Rehab Group will now delay the issuing of a notification to the HSE to terminate all care contracts in order to engage in a week-long process of intense discussion with the HSE in a bid to seek resolution. Rehab will meet Minister Harris again on May 15th at which point we hope a solution will have been identified which will safeguard these critical services for the 3000 people in our care, and our 1,500 staff. We will continue to fight for the funding we need to safeguard these services which are so critical to the people we serve.
Health Minister, Simon Harris fails to intervene to save vital services for 3,000 adults and children with disabilities across 147 services in 26 counties.
Rehab Group and its Board of Directors has confirmed that as an eleventh hour meeting with Health Minister, Simon Harris failed to find a resolution to its funding crisis, it has no choice but to notify the HSE on Monday that it has been forced to give 12 months’ notice of termination of its entire care services.
This action follows more than two years of negotiation between the Group and the HSE during which time the HSE failed to resolve the ongoing funding issue.
The Board of Rehab is deeply aware of the impact of this decision on the more than 3,000 service users and their families, as well as our 1,500 dedicated staff members throughout the 117 locations where the services are provided. The Board recognises that today’s announcement will cause great upset and anxiety for the people who use our services in RehabCare, their families, and 1,500 staff who provide that care.
The Group had called on Health Minister, Simon Harris to intervene to save our care services by instructing the HSE to providing €2 million additional funding per annum to bridge an unsustainable deficit. However, a meeting this evening with the Minister failed to find a resolution.
Without RehabCare, the future of life-changing supports for 3,000 people is at risk. This includes vital respite and residential services for 186 children, many with high-support needs. It includes day services for more than 1,600 adults along with supported accommodation services which allows hundreds of people to live independently in their communities, some after leaving decades of institutional care.
The reasons for this deficit are manifold and include the higher care costs of people using our services as they age, the burgeoning costs of meeting new HIQA and HSE regulatory requirements coupled with a massive hike in insurance costs.
Chairman of the Board of Directors of Rehab Group Jimmy Tolan said: “Today is a dark day in the history of Rehab and the thousands of people who are wholly reliant on our care. We are deeply disappointed that we have not been able to reach a resolution to this issue and that now our backs are against the wall. We have been forced into this decision that will adversely affect 3000 people’s lives who rely on us for their care, their families and our 1,500 dedicated staff. We have done everything in our power to avoid this. We are not going to take this lying down however, our campaign to save RehabCare services starts today. We urge the HSE and the Government will find a way to support us to continue to deliver these life-changing services to adults and children, many of whom consider RehabCare their home.”