A further imposition of cut backs at St. Michael’s House is creating huge uncertainty for the service which cares for over 1,700 adults and children with intellectual disabilities. The recent announcement to cut a further €1 million from the service’s budget with immediate effect has been met with anger and bewilderment from service users and staff at St. Michael’s House.
St Michael’s House provides 1,663 people with day services and 444 residential places. 283 parents with children using their services are over 70 years of age and 70 parents are over 80 years of age. Reduction in services even for one day will create huge problems for the service users at St. Michael’s House.
The budget for St. Michael’s House has been cut by over €12 million since 2008, this latest attack on the service combined with the on-going recruitment embargo in the HSE leaves resources severely stretched. This is the sixth year in a row that national government has chosen to attack the most vulnerable section of society; making these families take on the burden of banker’s debt is reprehensible and immoral. There can be no doubt that they will have to be shamed and forced to do the right thing for the thousands of families affected by these draconian cutbacks.
In many areas were respite care is currently in operation a worrying and uncertain situation exists. Cuts will mean that services simply cannot operate because they will be unable to pay the wages of two staff for night duties. It is standard practice where children are concerned that there must be two adults on duty.
Despite a loss of 160 posts since 2009 and five years of cuts the staff at St. Michael’s House, to their credit, have maintained a high quality of service and continued to support all new service users. But this organisation is now stretched beyond the limit and any cut now will have a devastating effect. This latest cut will see a reduction of staff which will inevitably cause a reduction to services leaving many families in an impossible situation. The knock on effects of such cuts has huge implications for the health and welfare of the users and their families as well as for the qualified staff members whose jobs are under threat. Six years of austerity have not solved any of the economic problems in the country in fact it has cause great hardship for the most vulnerable people in our communities, enough is enough.