Below are key findings that have emerged from the HSE and Genio Disability Programme to date. Some of these findings are informing the development of the Service Reform Fund in Disability.

No barriers, possible for all

Age, type of disability and severity was not found to be a barrier for participants, once the correct supports are in place for each person.    

  • 47% of people who received personalised supports through the projects had moderate or severe disabilities, while the age ranged from 18 to 83. 78% of people had intellectual disability and 22% physical disability.
  • A four year study on community living projects led by Prof Roy McConkey (2013, 2017) at the Ulster University also found a wide range of people with different needs being successfully supported to move from institutional living to their own homes in the community.

Better outcomes, better lives

Services which support people in a personalised way provide better outcomes for people with disabilities. Personalised supports put people at the heart of service design and delivery, giving people what they need, when and where they need it. 

  • A four year study by Prof Roy McConkey (2013, 2017) found that personalisation produces better outcomes than group or institutional care for people's emotional well-being, physical well-being, levels of self-determination, social inclusion, interpersonal relations, material well-being and personal development.
  • An evaluation by the Work Research Centre on 15 projects supporting young people with disabilities to secure mainstream training and employment found significantly better outcomes were achieved in the areas concerning citizenship, employability, social inclusion and overall quality of life, when compared with a similar, traditional sheltered day service.
  • Monitoring of beneficiaries through the Genio Research Programme throughout the project duration indicates that a significant percentage of participants enjoyed their life more.

Reduced costs and cost savings

For most people, the cost of community-based, personalised supports are far less than institutional-based services.

  • A Work Research Centre study of projects supporting young people with disabilities to secure mainstream employment and training  found that project costs were generally lower than comparable projects in traditional disability day services.
  • A four year study by Prof Roy McConkey which looked at people being supported to  move from group settings to community living (2013, 2017) found that personalised services in the community are much less costly for the same people than when they resided in group or institutional settings, with a few exceptions. The data indicates that the cost reductions for the majority seem to more than offset the increased costs for the participants with higher support needs.
  • Personalised ways of working with people can create effective and sustainable community-based supports for people. In some cases this can lead to the closure of institutional service settings and the freeing up of resources. Within the disability programme 7 disability units have closed to date.  

Training and support are key components to success

Training and support are key components in producing good outcomes for people using the services, their families and carers, as well as staff and organisations providing services.

  • Training for people using services - As each person is an individual it takes different lengths of time to achieve goals such as moving to their own home or securing employment. An analysis of 54 projects found that once the person has moved to their own home or secured employment, personalised support or training relevant to that person's living or employment situation is helpful in achieving better outcomes.
  • Training for families - Ulster University research (2013, 2017) found that involving families in the move to community was a key component to better outcomes, as relative’s initial concerns and misgivings are often not borne out. Many relatives can become strong advocates of the new arrangements and could clearly see the benefits for the person. A Study by Trinity College (2013) evaluating four 'family support projects' found that the projects helped participants to advocate for the rights of their family member and engage with services better. The families also reported improved quality of life, self-esteem, and confidence for their family member as a result of their increased independence and involvement in decision making. Research on implementation of personal budgets in Ireland for people with disabilities (2017) also found that for personal budgets to work effectively, support and training for people and their families is crucial.
  • Training for support staff - Organisations who support staff to work in personalised ways achieve better outcomes for people supported. An Ulster University study (2013) found that staff reported greater job satisfaction with the new way of working despite its challenging nature.

Support to develop community connections acheives much better outcomes

Research across all of the disability projects found that projects which explicitly planned for and worked on creating community connections and natural supports for people who moved from institutionional based services acheived better outcomes for those people.

  • A study by Prof Roy McConkey which looked at people being supported to move from group settings to community living (2013, 2017) concludes that “community engagement and social relationships need intensive support” to ensure that people do not become socially isolated and become valued community members.
  • A learning paper based on findings from 54 projects looked also emphasised the importance of “building strong and lasting relationships with the community (where) links with the community should be made in a very intentional and purposeful way for each person based on their abilities, contributions, wishes and needs”.

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