Top level navigation

Breadcrumb to current page

Main content

Press Release

Press release

Provision and demand for services among people with physical and sensory disability highlighted

16 December 2010

The demand is still high for rehabilitation and therapeutic services among people with a physical and/or sensory disability, in spite of high levels of service provision in this area recently. This is one of the findings of the National Physical and Sensory Disability Database (NPSDD) Annual Report 2009, published today by the Health Research Board.

The report provides the evidence for the planning and delivery of services for people with physical and/or sensory disability at a national level. A total of 26,169 people were registered on the Database in 2009. Males accounted for 53% of registrations on the database and females 47%. 

The types of disability most frequently reported were: physical disability (15,442 people, 59%), hearing loss/deafness (1,575 people, 6%), visual disability (1,355 people, 5%), speech and language disability (almost 10 %). More than half (58%), of the people registered on the NPSDD, had a primary carer.

The data below illustrate the high level of service use, as well as outstanding demand for rehabilitation and therapeutic services, such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy. 

  • 21,891 people, or 83.7 % of all people registered on the Database, were receiving therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation services,  5,308 people needed an enhancement to these services.
  • 13,263 people (50.7%) required assessment for these services.
  • 1,801 people (6.9%) were assessed and placed on a waiting list for these services.
  • 113 people (0.4%) were assessed but were unable to avail of these services for a variety of reasons, for example, the service location was not accessible by the individual.

Just over half of people registered (13,812 people) were using day services and activities. However, 3,159 people (12.1 %) still registered a need for this type of support. A further 4,080 people registered on the Database (15.6%) needed some change or alternative to their existing services.

Personal assistance and support services such as personal assistant, home help and home care were accessed by 7,477 people (28.6%). However 6,121 people (23.4%) still required assessment for personal assistance and support services.

The provision and demand for residential, respite care and technical aids and appliances are also presented in the report. These show that 894 people (3.4%) were availing of a residential service and 2.6% of people registered were not availing of any residential service, but required such supports. Demand for respite was higher with almost 15% of people indicating a need for assessment for respite services. Two-thirds of people registered were using at least one technical aid and appliance.

For the first time this year, the NPSDD Annual Report contains the Measure of Activity and Participation (MAP) data. This is based on the WHO International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). It provides a more holistic view of disability by capturing information on the barriers to participating in age-appropriate life activities (e.g. transport, income, physical environment, attitudes) in the year prior to the NPSDD interview. It captures the extent of restriction in participating in particular life areas (e.g. education, employment, socialising) and the extent of difficulty with everyday activities (e.g. washing, dressing, maintaining household responsibilities).

'The Measure of Activity and Participation is really important, because over time it can be used to track the impact that service interventions have for an individual', says Mary Ann O Donovan, Research Officer at the HRB.

'For example; if someone has identified that he/she has a difficulty in participating in life activities such as education, socialising or shopping at one point in time, but then receive a particular service or package of services, such as  a personal assistant, you would expect that participation in activities will improve. The MAP data will show if this improvement in experience has occurred', she explains.

The MAP section was introduced in 2004 and is completed by those aged 16 and over. A total of 11,365 people registered on the NPSDD completed the MAP section of the report. The data show that: -

  • The greatest barrier to participation was the physical environment (55%), closely followed by the climate/weather (49%) and income (38%)
  • Socialising was the life area were the greatest number of people experienced restriction in participation (56%).
  • The emotional affect of disability was the greatest area of difficulty in the 30 days prior to the NPSDD interview with 73% indicating some difficulty.

'The bottom line is that over time MAP data will reflect whether the services that a person is receiving are actually making a difference to his/her ability to participate in society, which should be the result of appropriate service provision', concludes Ms O Donovan.

For more information contact:

Gillian Markey, Communications Manager

Health Research Board

m 00353 87 2288514

t 00353 1 2345103

e gmarkey(at) 


Search the HRB website

Other information and links