The full NAS Annual Report 2019 is available to read HERE.
The National Advocacy Service for People with Disabilities (NAS) today launched its 2019 Annual Report.The report shows that housing and accommodation remain the biggest issues its advocates worked on when providing support for people with disabilities in Ireland.
The NAS Annual Report says that 50% of all the cases its advocates worked on in 2019 involved issues related to housing and accommodation. In 2018, the number of NAS advocacy cases involving issues related to housing and accommodation also stood at 50%.
The advocacy cases related to housing and accommodation in 2019 included support for with people with intellectual disabilities or autism who face particular challenges in the homelessness system, people inappropriately accommodated in residential settings, those stuck in acute hospitals because of a lack of appropriate housing upon discharge, and difficulties faced by people with disabilities navigating the social housing list.
NAS advocates also repeatedly faced the issue of a lack of resources from the HSE for personal assistance hours and home care packages. Its advocates worked with a diverse range of people with disabilities who have ended up living in entirely inappropriate accommodation due to a lack of personal assistance hours to allow them to live independently in the community or place of their choice.
Other key issues include Healthcare, with 22% NAS advocacy cases covering issues such as access to healthcare services and treatment choice, and Justice, with 12% of advocacy cases including issues such as Ward of Court cases, wills and probate, personal injuries claims, rights of residence and criminal cases.
In terms of NAS work, 2019 was a significant year of growth, as the number of people who used its service continued to increase, and it established its independent, new Patient Advocacy Service.
Established in October 2019, the Patient Advocacy Service provides, free, confidential empowerment advocacy to users of HSE-funded public acute hospitals who want to make a formal complaint about the care they have received. Service also provides support to users of public acute hospitals following a Patient Safety Incident.
NAS work in 2019
NAS is funded and supported by the Citizens Information Board, and provides free, independent and confidential representative advocacy to people with disabilities across Ireland.
NAS has a particular remit to provide representative advocacy to people with disabilities in vulnerable situations, such as those living in residential settings, attending disability day services, those with communication differences or those with limited natural or formal supports.
In 2019, NAS provided full representative advocacy to 1,026 people across Ireland, an 11% increase on 2018. NAS also provided information and short-term advocacy support in 3,459 instances.
During the year, NAS worked on a range of complex cases, demonstrating the importance of advocacy across many sectors, from housing to healthcare, to personal finance, justice and family issues.
NAS advocates were proactive in reaching out to people in particularly vulnerable situations, such as those living in residential settings, those attending disability day services, those with communication differences and those with limited natural or formal supports in their lives.
NAS took part in over 300 promotional events and presentations across Ireland, to ensure people were aware of the support we offer.
There were also many advocacy successes, reflected in the positive outcomes achieved for the people supported by NAS. The 2019 Annual Report includes a number of cases studies which highlight the difference our support has made.
Case studies such as Samuel, a man in his forties with sensory and intellectual disabilities who hadn’t been able to access respite or day services for many years. Our advocate worked with the HSE to ensure he was moved to supported accommodation where he is now living a happier, healthier, life.
Or Eric, a young man who has an acquired brain injury and was the main carer for his elderly father. Our advocate supported Eric to get financial support for his dad to enter a nursing home, and helped Eric access social housing and job opportunities.
In 2019, NAS also highlighted many issues during meetings with state agencies, while also contributing to the CIB pre-budget submission, and we made several submissions to public consultations by organisations such as HIQA and the Garda.
Louise Loughlin, NAS National Manager, said: “2019 was a landmark year for NAS. We continued our work to uphold the human rights of people with disabilities, and we established our independent new Patient Advocacy Service, which will allow us to strengthen advocacy in Ireland and help those people who really need our support.
“In all our activities, we remain committed to the goal of a society where people’s rights and autonomy are respected, they have fair and equal treatment, and they have access to the services they need.”
Establishment of new Patient Advocacy Service
Another highlight of 2019 was the establishment of the independent, new Patient Advocacy Service.
Commissioned by the National Patient Safety Office in the Department of Health and managed by NAS, the service is free, independent of the HSE and run by professionally trained Patient Advocates, who use their compassion and knowledge to guide people through the HSE complaints process.
Marking the culmination of the year’s work, the Patient Advocacy Service was officially launched by the then Minister for Health, Simon Harris, at Dublin Castle in November 2019.
The Patient Advocacy Service will build on the excellent reputation and high level of expertise NAS has developed in the field of advocacy support over several years. It will also allow NAS to strengthen advocacy in Ireland and help those people who really need our support.
Claire Lehane, Patient Advocacy Service Manager, said: “Until now, people in Ireland who experienced difficulties in the Irish health service often felt there was nowhere for them to turn. The newly established Patient Advocacy Service offers patients the guidance and information they need to make a complaint when they are unhappy with the care they receive.”
The full NAS Annual Report 2019 is available to read HERE.
Andrew Kennedy – Policy and Communications Officer
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