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New Health Research Board Data on Disability Services

Minister of State with responsibility for Disability Anne Rabbitte TD, has welcomed the publication of the National Ability Supports System (NASS) Annual Report 2020, recently published by the Health Research Board (HRB).

The report, which includes information on 36,649 people who use or still need a disability service in Ireland, now records information on the needs of people with autism and developmental delay. In addition to the National report, the HRB has also generated supplementary reports for autism, intellectual disability and physical and sensory disability as well as regional bulletins for each Community Healthcare Organisation (CHO) area.

Minister Rabbitte commented, “I am grateful to the HRB for their work in collecting and reporting much needed data on HSE-funded disability services. It provides a valuable resource to us in the Department of Health in relation to service planning and policy for people with a disability, including the expected service demand out to 2025.”

“This data provides crucial information for policy planning and helps the department gain a deeper understanding of the profile of those being supported by the various disability service providers around the country, as well as the supports being utilised most.”

“This information details where and how services are being delivered, as well as highlighting areas where we need to take a closer look at how we can improve the delivery of services, whether that relates to areas such as respite, day services, residential, independent living or the delivery therapeutic interventions.”

Key Findings in the NASS Annual Report 2020:

1. Demographic Profile

  • Three-in-five (21,694) of the people registered on NASS in 2020 were male.
  • More than one-in-three (12,571) people registered were under 18 years of age.
  • Intellectual disability was the most commonly reported primary disability (22,746, 62%) followed by a neurological disability (4,201, 12%) and autism (3,804, 10%)
  • Almost four-in-five (3,013) of those with autism were male.

2. Current services 2020

  • One-in-five people (7,535) accessed residential services.
  • Approximately three-in-five people (23,194) accessed day service.
  • One-in-twenty people (1,742) accessed overnight respite places.
  • One-in-six people (6,235) accessed services and supports that enable a person with a disability to live more independently and participate more effectively in the community.
  • Two-in-three people (24,039) received at least one specialist support in 2020, with speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and social work the three most common supports provide.

3. Service demand for 2020-2025

  • 1,000 new residential placements are needed and 1,366 people need enhancements to their current service.
  • 1,214 new day service places are needed and 3,720 enhancements are required to current day service placements
  • 761 new overnight respite places are needed and 597 enhancements to current overnight respite are required
  • 800 new supports for daily living are needed and 1,095 enhancements to current supports are required
  • 4,886 new places for specialist supports are needed and 19,724 enhancements to current specialist supports are required


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