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Press Release

Press release

New report on disability service provision and use

19 August 2012

Figures released today by the Health Research Board in the Annual Report of the National Physical and Sensory Disability Database (NPSDD) Committee 2011 show that while there have been high levels of service provision in recent years, demand for services remains high.

The analysis in the report is based on 25,170* registrations in the database of those under 66 years of age. The report includes information on current service use as well as future service requirements for people with physical and sensory disability.

Key findings include:

  • 21,583 people with a physical and/or sensory disability were in receipt of one or more therapeutic intervention and/or rehabilitation services; this group represents 86% of all people who are registered on NPSDD.
  • 7,197 people (29%) were in receipt of one or more personal assistance and/or support services.
  • 13,804 people (55%) were in receipt of one or more day services and activities.
  • 823 people (3%) were availing of residential services.
  • 2,333 people (9%) were availing of one or more planned respite services and 243 people (1%) had used emergency respite services in the twelve-month period prior to their NPSDD interview.
  • 16,343 people (65%) were using at least one technical aid or appliance.

Males accounted for 53% of registrations on the database and females 47%. The types of disability most frequently recorded were: physical disability (13,915 individuals, 55%) of which 8,070 people reported a neurological disability, hearing loss/deafness (1,376 individuals, 6%), visual disability (1,292 individuals, 5%), speech and language disability (2,714 individuals, 11%). More than half (61%), of the people registered on the NPSDD in 2011 had a primary carer.

The data illustrate that current use of rehabilitation and therapeutic services such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy is high. The future demand for these services is also high. For example, in 2011:

  • 4,510 individuals (18%) required an enhancement to these services.
  • 11,194 individuals (45%) required assessment for these services.
  • 1,802 individuals (7%) were assessed and placed on a waiting list for the services.

In 2011, 13,804 individuals, more than half of those registered on the database, were in receipt of day services and activities, such as education, training, work or employment services. A total of 2,766 (11%) of these individuals require a modification or alternative to their existing service. A further 2,553 (10%) individuals will require these services in the period 2012 - 2016.

Support services such as personal assistant, home help and home care were provided to 7,197 people (29%) in 2011. A total of 967 (4%) individuals were recorded as requiring an enhancement to these services. A further 4,832 people (19%) required assessment for services of this type. Sixty-five per cent of those registered on the database were using at least one technical aid or appliance.

The provision and demand for residential and respite care are also presented in the report. Figures show that 823 people (3%) were availing of a residential service.  Almost 3% of the individuals registered required such a support but didn't currently receive it. Demand for respite care was higher with 12% of those registered (2,980 individuals) on the database recorded as requiring assessment for respite services.

According to a Department of Health spokesperson;

'The Health Research Board's Disability Databases have been an invaluable source of information to the recent Review of the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Disability Services in Ireland, published by the Department of Health. The importance of data availability and data quality in the disability area is also reinforced in the Department's recent Value for Money and Policy Review of Disability Services in Ireland'.

The NPSDD Annual Report also presents Measure of Activity and Participation (MAP) data which is based on the WHO International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). This provides a holistic view of disability by capturing information on the barriers, restriction and difficulties relating to everyday activities experienced by those with a physical and/or sensory disability.

The MAP data are collected for those aged 16 and over. These data were available for 12,876 individuals in 2011 and show that:

  • The greatest barrier to participation was the physical environment (57%), closely followed by the climate/weather (53%) and income (40%).
  • The life areas where the greatest number of people experienced participation restriction were sports or physical recreation (70%) and employment and job seeking (68%).
  • 73% of respondents reported that the emotional effect of disability was the area where the greatest level of difficulty was experienced in the 30 days prior to the NPSDD interview.

*Clarity on numbers

1. Participation in the HRB National Physical and Sensory Disability Database is voluntary and therefore does not represent all people with physical or sensory disability in Ireland.
2. 4,426 records of those aged 66 and over were excluded as the responsibility for provision of care services for this group lies with the Office for Older People in the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive.

For more information contact:
Gillian Markey, Communications Manager
Health Research Board
m 00353 87 2288514
t 00353 1 2345103
e gmarkey(at)

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