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Community, Covid 19, Housing, News

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Internationally, increased attention is focused on the provision of personalised supports to people with disabilities and enduring illness. Personalised or individualised supports are those which address the unique needs of the individual focusing on their strengths and abilities, which are chosen by the person and which are delivered in the community fostering inclusion and participation. Recent Irish policy documents have also described and recommended a way of supporting people with disabilities which involves a reframing of provision from services towards individualised supports. The Value for Money and Policy Review of Disability Services recommends that the goal of full inclusion and self-determination for people with disabilities be pursued “through access to the individualised personal social supports and services needed to live a fully included life in the community”.

Aims of the evaluation

In this context this evaluation was concerned with identifying the outcomes for people with disabilities and mental health difficulties receiving individualised supports; particularly on indicators of social inclusion and quality of life but also in relation to their individual aspirations, including;

  • the processes which have led to effective change and transition in terms of personal outcomes and the delivery of individualised supports.
  • the direct costs of providing the personalised support for people using services and how these costs have changed as a result of the changes in support provided.
  • the implications for the further development of personalised services in an Irish service context.

Follow-up study

A further data uplift by Prof. Roy McConkey and colleagues, Ulster University (UU) is taking place on this study. This will enable the longer-term impact of a move to independent living to be established as well as the impact on those individuals who had only just moved at the end of the initial study. 


Key Points
  • Personalised supports for people living in their own homes produce better outcomes than congregated care/group homes.
  • Quality of Life improvements are clear for those who move from congregated care.
  • Personalised housing and support options are feasible to implement in Ireland across people with a variety of disabilities/mental health difficulties.
  • Personalised supports can save on costs for most people. 
  • Group homes do not offer personalised accommodation or support – this has implications for how future deinstitutionalisation should be carried out.

Summary available here.


Community, News, Resources, Uncategorized


How personal budgets are working in Ireland: Evaluating the implementation of four individualised funding initiatives for people with a disability in Ireland

Research team

Prepared by Pádraic Fleming, Mental Health and Social Research Unit, Maynooth University Department of Psychology

Download report here

This report presents an evaluation of the implementation of personalised budgets in four Genio-supported projects for people with a disability. The evaluation includes a summary of the main lessons learned according to the key people involved in these initiatives, including individuals with a disability who participated in the initiatives; family members; paid and unpaid advocates; and staff members from within the four organisations. 

This document is aimed at anyone who is interested in the practicalities, successes and challenges of implementing individualised funding initiatives in Ireland. Those who may be interested include:

  • People living with a disability.
  • Those providing informal supports for people with a disability, such as family members, friends, members of the wider community.
  • Personal assistants / key workers and other paid support for individuals with a disability.
  • Staff members currently implementing individualised funding initiatives.
  • Service providers considering moving to an individualised funding model or incorporating an individualised funding arm into their current service model.
  • Researchers.
  • Funders.
  • Policy makers/drivers such as civil servants and elected members of government.
  • The Health Service Executive (HSE) and other health service staff.

For individualised funding to be successful in Ireland, it is important to focus on an individual’s abilities, passions and interests and to encourage independence and personal responsibility. It is essential to provide an easy and transparent access route from the outset for people who wish to avail of individualised funding and targeted training for support workers / personal assistants etc.

New community-based friendships should also be encouraged and facilitated, while existing contacts and friendships are maintained for the people supported. Sharing stories and celebrate achievements by using social networks, blogs, print, video and other media can highlight success stories and help grow momentum.

Ensure that senior staff members within organisations implementing individualised funding positively champion and promote individualised funding, particularly during challenging periods and develop collaboration and build a unified network of advocates in order to strengthen the national presence. It is important that these people engage and network in order to share ideas, top tips and pitfalls whilst focusing on shared goals rather than organisational differences.

A number of recommendations are made at the end of the briefing document. These are based on the key lessons presented and are intended to inform, challenge and promote discussion among the readership.

Key Points
  • For personal budgets to work effectively, the focus should be on each person’s abilities and interests, along with encouraging independence and personal responsibility.
  • The process of implementing personal budgets must be clear and easy to access.
  • Training for all parties is essential in order to access and utilise personal budgets effectively.
  • Sharing stories and celebrating achievements via social networks, video and other media can highlight success and grow momentum.

Community, Personal Identity, Personal Identity, Resources, Uncategorized

Manifesto Point 3: Our lives are better when we focus on each other’s strengths, abilities, interests and gifts.

Introducing a Booklet from the Community Resource Unit Ltd: BUILDING BELONGING IN THE SCHOOL COMMUNITY: Finding Roles that Help Students Participate and Contribute

Download the Resource here.

This booklet has been designed for families and teachers of children with a disability from Kindergarten to High School.

Inclusion is about more than physical presence at school. It is about belonging, being valued, and being able to fully participate in that school community.
All parents want their child’s school years to be full and productive, for them to have opportunities to discover their gifts, to grow and to ‘shine’ in many small ways. Students with disability are vulnerable to only being seen for their challenges or negative stereotypes. Helping children have access to valued social roles is one way families and schools can guard against this vulnerability. Valued roles provide opportunity for connections, personal development, self-esteem (and much more!) both at school and across the whole of life.

Community, Housing, Personal Stories, Uncategorized

Paul Alford was born with a mild intellectual disability and grew up in institutional care away from his family. He tells MaryMcAleese about his fight to work in the community, travel independently and get a place he could finally call home. Paul and Mary do the turas together in the stunning Gleann Cholm Cille, Co. Donegal. 

Turas Cholmcille is named after St Columba who lived and prayed in Glencolmcille 1500 years ago. One of Ireland’s patron saints, who is said to have brought Christianity to Scotland, he was exiled to Iona where he founded an abbey. Today pilgrims still follow in his footpaths to do the 15 turas or stations of this beautiful Donegal walk.

As Mary and Paul set off on their pilgrimage, he tells her about growing up in the 1960’s, when it was common to put disabled children into institutional care. ‘I had a family living in East Wall, but I never lived at home’, he tells Mary. ‘I was always away at these boarding places. It was a hard life. You lived in dormitories and if you didn’t behave you were hit with a cane. I felt upset and used to get distressed a lot, but I used to see my parents at the weekends. My mother and brother used to come out on a bicycle and bring me a few sweets and have a chat with me.’

Paul lived and worked in residential care for over 50 years, but always dreamt of a more independent life out in the community. As an adult he became involved in advocacy work for people with disabilities, because he was unhappy with the living and working conditions.

Paul has now worked in Inclusion Ireland for over 14 years and has traveled the world on his own. He has also finally been able to buy his own home.

Living in institutions for so many years had a profound impact on Paul’s relationship with his parents. ‘I was angry with my parents and I thought that they were like strangers to me, because I never lived at home in my life. I loved to see them, I loved my mother and father, especially my father Jim – he was a nice man. I would pray for them and I think they are looking down at me. They would be proud of me getting my own house and having a proper job and wages. I have surprised myself at getting this far, I thought I’d never achieve this in my life’.


Community, Personal Identity, Relationships, Resources, Uncategorized

What does Person Centered mean? A Conversation with Jack Pearpoint & Lynda Kahn

                                                                                                   Watch the interview here

“Person Centered” is a phrase used by organisations and individuals, relating to care, planning, education…but its often misused. What does person centered actually mean? I chatted to Jack Pearpoint and Lynda Kahn, both renowned worldwide for their work in the field of inclusion and planning, about the ideas behind the person centered approach and what happens when it is mis-used, with a particular slant towards planning.

~~~~ Useful Links ~~~~~

Inclusion Press:

~~~~ Social Media ~~~~~  

Jenny Trott’s social media

Community, Housing, Personal Identity, Resources, Uncategorized

Research Report: Supporting people to live self-directed lives in the community: Learning from 54 Irish projects

Founded in 2008, Genio works to achieve a vision where all people are valued and supported as equal members of society

Genio’s current programmes in Ireland are reaching whole populations of need in disability, mental health and homelessness in Ireland, in many cases underpinning national reform programmes.

Genio is a European organisation based in Ireland working with philanthropy and government at national and EU levels. Specialising in social service transformation, Genio has a deep understanding and track record of complex system change and combines fund-management, capacity-building, action research and impact-measurement to effect public service reform. The hallmark of Genio’s work is to strive to ensure service user involvement at every level of service design and delivery.

This work has been supported by the Atlantic Philanthropies and is now being sustained by Government. In the last 10 years Genio has helped to facilitate change and improvements for over 8,500 people across disability, mental health, dementia and homelessness services.

In 2014 Genio published a research report on how to support people with disabilities to live self-directed lives in the community. This research was drawn from 54 innovative projects across Ireland that were supported by Genio.


The paper outlines the key learning from 54 projects which have been supporting people with disabilities and mental health difficulties to move, usually from institutional settings, to live self-directed lives of their choosing in their local communities. The paper describes the implementation learning that has taken place; how this happens in practice; and the factors which lead to and support positive outcomes for the individuals. The paper draws on a significant body of data collected from these projects during on-site visits which included meetings with the project leads, key staff and the people being supported as well as family members, advocates and other allies.

The following characteristics have been identified as most strongly associated with good outcomes for the person and the organisation;

  1. Multi-level leadership – there should be ‘a champion’ at all levels of the organisation who supports and drives the move to a new way of supporting those using the service.
  2. Involving families and allies – needs to be done in a way that acknowledges their concerns, that considers how they want to be involved in supporting their family member and that considers the wishes of the person.
  3. Engaging and consulting with stakeholders – engagement should be future-focused on how different stakeholders are going to contribute to the new supports being developed.
  4. Staff skills and training – staff need to be trained/supported into these new ways of working.
  5. Readiness -the starting point should be that everyone is ready to move, with the emphasis on what supports needed to be put in place to ensure this happens safely and in a way that is designed by the person.
  6. It’s about more than housing – time should be built in for a process of really getting to know the person so that informed decisions can be made about accommodation options.
  7. Building strong and lasting relationships with the community – 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.
  8. Start small and ‘model’ change – those involved act as ‘peer models’ for the process and the change involved. For those who will be moving, seeing their peer preparing and then successfully move, can give others encouragement that this is possible.
  9. Challenge of reconfiguration – in order to provide the supports for those who have moved, existing resources must be reconfigured so that the supports can move with the person.
  10. This takes time – to be done really well for each person, this process takes time.
  11. Focus on outcomes and monitor progress – progress can be greatly assisted by monitoring progress towards agreed outcomes.

Download here


Circles of Support, Community, News, Resources, Uncategorized

Living Room Conversations…ideas that influence Person Centered Work

John O’Brien and Connie Lyle-O’Brien have spent a lifetime moving our thinking about how people with developmental disabilities can be supported, shifting from institution and program centered life, to the person centered life of citizens contributing to the communities where people live. This video explores a framework for thinking that John and Connie began to develop more than 40 years ago, incorporating the five valued experiences and the five accomplishments that can shape the intent, focus, and delivery of support.

Click on the picture to watch the video or click here

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