Published on 

Minister for Disability Anne Rabbitte welcomes the latest 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 said:

“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 show:
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.
• Parents made up the majority of primary carers. However 5% of primary carers of people with an intellectual disability were siblings.

Current services 2020
• One-in-five people (7,535) accessed residential services.
• Approximately three-in-five people (23,194) accessed day service. Some people may attend more than one day service.
• One in 20 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 (recorded as supports for daily living on NASS in 2020).
• Two-in every-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 provided.

Service demand for 2020-2025
• 1,000 new residential placements are needed and 1,366 people need enhancements to their current service (for example, additional hours/days or additional supports).
• 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.

NASS was established in 2018 to replace the HRB’s two previous disability information systems: the National Intellectual Disability Database (NIDD) and the National Physical and Sensory Disability Database (NPSDD). NASS has consolidated and expanded upon the previous systems to also include data on autism, development delay and mental health.

Data completeness
Every effort was made to ensure the information available on NASS reflects the full picture of disability services that people use and require in their everyday lives, however some service providers were unable to return data for 2020. In spite of the impact of Covid-19, NASS records rose by over 14,000 compared to 2019, and it is fully expected that the numbers of registrations will grow again in 2021. As the NASS contains some new data fields that were not on the previous disability databases, some of these fields remain incomplete, where service provider IT systems have not yet been updated to provide this information.