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Press Release

Press release

Intellectual Disability Services - HRB publish latest figures on current use and future demand

2 October 2014

The Health Research Board (HRB) published today the Annual Report of the National Intellectual Disability Database Committee 2013. The report, based on data from 27,691 people, highlights service provision levels in 2013 along with estimates of future service needs from now until 2018.

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

‘Ireland is the only country in Europe with such a comprehensive dataset on intellectual disability and service provision. The HRB now has data going back seventeen years which allows us to see trends emerge, analyse how service delivery has evolved, and to make future plans based on the best available evidence’. 

The report is being launched today by Minister Kathleen Lynch, TD, at a prize-giving ceremony in St Hilda’s Service Athlone. This is to celebrate Claire Madden’s success in winning the NIDD cover design competition. Her painting was selected from more than 200 entries nationwide as the cover image of the report. Claire is a member of the Tonnta Street Theatre and Community Arts Group in Athlone.

Minister Lynch commented, 

‘For those who need to live away from home, the report shows a shift from institutional models of care towards community living. The majority of those registered on the database live with their families. The proportion of those on the database who are in receipt of day services and supports such as those provided by St. Hilda’s continues to increase each year. In addition, there has been steady growth in support services like respite care’.

Summary data from the report includes:

Demographic profile:
  • There were 27,691 people registered on the NIDD in December 2013.
  • There were more males than females in all age groups except the 55-years-and-over-age group.
  • The total number of people registered with a moderate, severe or profound intellectual disability has increased by 44% since the first Census of Mental Handicap in the Republic of Ireland was carried out in 1974 by the HRB.
  • Sixty-seven per cent of all those registered on the NIDD (18,498 individuals) lived at home in 2013.   
Current services:

The report shows that 27,318 people with intellectual disability were in receipt of services.  Of those:

  • 7,972 were in receipt of full-time residential services, a decrease of 1.6% on the 2012 figure.
  • 27,272 people availed of at least one day programme in 2013. 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 2014 – 2018:

Most service needs were recorded as being immediate.

  • 2,215 new full-time residential placements will be required. Almost three quarters  (71%) of this group had a moderate, severe or profound level of intellectual disability and 54% were aged 35 years and over. The majority (85%) required placements in community group homes.
  • 2,043 people require residential support services, mainly respite.
  • Of those in receipt of services in 2013, 11,519 will require alternative, additional, or enhanced services in the period 2014 to 2018, (a decrease of 365 on 2012 figures).

According to Ms Caraíosa Kelly, HRB, lead author of the report,

‘One of the key trends apparent from this report is that people with intellectual disability are living longer. There are currently just over 11,500 people with a moderate, severe or profound intellectual disability over the age of 35. Many in this group are living beyond the care-giving capacity of their carers and will start to rely more heavily on services as they age.  A range of additional services and supports will be needed for these people and their carers if they are to continue to live at home for as long as possible. 

The report also shows that notwithstanding record levels of care, 2,215 new full-time residential placements and 2,043 residential support services are needed’.

A copy of the main findings is available to download from the HRB website, and detailed tabular data is 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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