Parents now asked to carry out therapies on their children as waiting lists grow 3 months ago

Parents now asked to carry out therapies on their children as waiting lists grow

This is shocking.

The waiting lists for children in Ireland to access therapies such as speech and language and physiotherapy has been growing steadily over the past few years.

Currently, more than 34,000 children now on community health waiting lists across the country.

And there is no sign of this improving anything soon, with HSE now ordering parents to attend training courses so they can carry out therapies on their own children who remain on these lengthy waiting lists.

What is worse, parents are now being told that if they do not avail of these courses, their children will be taken off HSE lists for therapies such as speech and language and physiotherapy.

"If you say no to a course you are told that you will be taken off the waiting list," one mother, who has three children with disabilities, told the Irish Examiner earlier this week.

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She explains parents are now feeling both let down and at their wits end as they are being asked to take on several professional roles.

"I have no problem working alongside a therapist, but I am not a therapist. Things at home can be quite stressful. I'm one person, but you are expected to do the job of eight or nine different people and you just can't do it; I have suffered burnout in the past."

'Unacceptable situation'

Disabilities minister Anne Rabbitte agree the situation is unacceptable and says the HSE needs to step up.

"It’s simply not good enough that parents are still waiting several months or years to access crucial therapeutic supports for children," Rabbitte says, adding that the HSE has not fully explained a shift to a new system of Individual Family Support Plans to parents, which has caused "difficulties" for families.

"Understandably, for parents, it looks like they’re being asked to do more while therapies don’t appear to be materialising on the ground. This can’t be allowed to continue and I want to see this strain eased."

She adds:

"Parents are under pressure and some are really struggling to support their children. As I’ve said to the HSE a number of times, their communication with parents, in particular, has been poor."

Citing the new Progressing Disability Services for Children and Young People (PDS) programme, which has reconfigured the way services are delivered, a spokesperson for the HSE said:

"The child’s family and those who are with them every day are the most important people in their lives. Internationally, there is widespread change, based on growing evidence, from providing disability services ‘to’ or ‘for’ children towards supporting and empowering families to work with their child in their natural everyday environment to achieve and retain new skills."