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Press Release

Press release

Intellectual Disability Services - HRB publish latest figures

12 November 2015

The Health Research Board (HRB) will today (12 November 2015) publish the Annual Report of the National Intellectual Disability Database Committee 2014. The report, based on data from 27,887 people, highlights service provision levels in 2014 along with estimates of future service needs from 2015 until 2019.

According to Graham Love, Chief Executive of the Health Research Board,

‘The HRB along with its predecessor has been gathering information about people with intellectual disability for 40 years and publishing detailed statistics on their levels of health service use and need. For the first time, the report presents information by the new Community Health Organisation (CHO) areas of the HSE to reflect its new structures. This report will be invaluable to anyone involved in planning service level needs for people with intellectual disability'. 

The report is being launched by Minister Kathleen Lynch, TD, at a prize-giving ceremony in Carriglea Cairde Services in Dungarvan to mark Carmel Curran's success on winning the NIDD cover design competition with her painting 'Surge of Colour'. Her painting was selected from more than 300 entries nationwide as the cover image of the report.

Minister Lynch commented,

‘When you compare the situation now to 40 years ago when these statistics were first gathered, we have made tremendous advances as a society in how we support and empower those with intellectual disability to live full and meaningful lives in their own communities.

If we go back 18 years to when the NIDD was established in its current format, we have made substantial improvements to services for adults and children, with marked increases in numbers of people in supported employment, rehabilitative training and special high-support day placements'.

Demand for new and enhanced services and supports will continue and the information in the database will help us to plan for those’. 

Ms Sarah Craig, Head of National Health Information Systems at the HRB noted,

'The majority of adults with intellectual disability continue to live with their families with the aid of additional support services. However as both they and their caregivers age, a fact clearly highlighted in this report, a wide range of additional services are required to assist them to continue to live as independently as possible. This changing age profile has significant implications for service planning as many people with intellectual disability are outliving the care giving capacities of their family carers'.

Summary data from the report include:
 Demographic profile:
  • There were 27,887 people registered on the NIDD in December 2014.
  • There were more males than females in all age groups except the 55-years-and-over-age group. In total, 16,228 registrants were male (58.2%) and 11,659 were female (41.8%).
  • Sixty-seven per cent of all those registered on the NIDD (18,794 individuals) lived at home in 2014. 
Current services:

The report shows that 27,515 people with intellectual disability were in receipt of services. This was the highest number of people in receipt of services since the database was established in 1995. Of these 27,515 people:

  • 7,886 (28.7%) were in receipt of full-time residential services, a decrease of 1.1% on the 2013 figure. This is the eleventh consecutive year in which the data indicate that more people live in community group homes than residential centres.
  • 27,467 (98.5%) people availed of at least one day programme in 2014. The number of people availing of day services has been steadily increasing since NIDD data were first reported in 1996.
Future service requirements in the period 2015 – 2019:

Most service needs were recorded as being immediate.

  • 19,457 people will require new and / or enhanced services.
  • 2,168 new full-time residential placements will be required. Almost three quarters (71%) of this group have a moderate, severe or profound level of intellectual disability and 57% are aged 35 years and over. The majority (86%) require placements in community group homes.
  • 2,033 people require residential support services, mainly respite.
Comparing 1974 and 2014 data:
  • In 1974, data was collected on 4,863 people with intellectual disability. In 2014 that figure had risen to 27,887. 
  • In 1974, people over 35 years with a moderate, severe or profound intellectual disability made up 28.5% of total registrations. This rose to 38% in 1996 (the first year of the NIDD), and reached 49% in 2014.

A copy of the main findings is available to download from the ‘Publications’ section of HRB website, and detailed tabular data are also available online in Microsoft Excel format.

For further information, please contact Brian Cummins, Communications Officer, HRB, 01-2345136, 0868037551, bcummins(at)


Notes for editors.

The Health Research Board (HRB) is the lead agency supporting and funding health research in Ireland. We also manage five health information systems in the areas of alcohol and drug use, disability and mental health and generate evidence for health policy. Our aim is to improve people's health, build health research capacity and underpin developments in service delivery.

We manage two national service-planning databases for people with disabilities: the National Intellectual Disability Database (NIDD), established in 1995, and the National Physical and Sensory Disability Database (NPSDD), established in 2002. These systems were designed to provide valid and reliable data for service planning. Data from these systems are also used to inform policy and practice.  

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