Study to fill care gaps for people with intellectual disabilities
Consultation has begun on a national plan that aims to help fill “critical gaps” in services for persons with intellectual disabilities.
The plan, spearheaded by Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute, has the support of the health and education ministries.
A steering committee of community and government stakeholders was established to draft the plan, members of which include key charities, public service providers across three government ministries as well as family representatives and advocates.
Tinee Furbert, the Minister of Social Development and Seniors, provided details on the Intellectual Disabilities National Plan at a press conference alongside Morrisa Rogers, clinical director for the Intellectual Disabilities Programme at MWI.
Ms Furbert said: “People with intellectual disabilities experience higher incidents of challenges with health, education, behaviour, financial and vocational opportunities, family supports and other personal circumstances.
“In Bermuda, the majority of persons live at home but most require a range of support services for at least one aspect of their daily lives. A significant number may require full-time residential care. The need for a plan arose from service organisations and families seeing significant gaps in our system for adults with intellectual disabilities, especially for those with more complex needs.
“The plan will be developed in a phased approach addressing the first gaps associated with persons who are 14 years and older for whom support services become significantly reduced.
“We do not have a single agency or sector with overall responsibility for providing the support needed for adults with intellectual disabilities.
“Accordingly, the draft plan is a result of cross ministry and sector collaboration.”
Ms Furbert said the plan would be the guiding document for the next five years to co-ordinate services provisions and development and to address significant gaps.
She added: “This plan is about building a supportive environment. The plan aims to enable people with intellectual disabilities to live long and healthy lives, be able to make choices and take control of their lives, feel happy, safe and supported, lead fulfilling and active lives be respected and treated with dignity.”
The plan sets out five objective priority areas: Quality; Education and Workforce; Policy Regulation and Accountability; Financing; and Advocacy and Communication.
Each year, key stakeholders will set action plans to achieve the objectives and report back to the ministry and the public.
“Annual action plans will include, for example, steps to achieve Throne Speech initiatives such as the disability register, as well as co-ordinated service improvement and development across the sector,” Ms Furbert said.
“An easy-to-read summary of the plan, using photo symbols and an audio recording, will be available. We will be holding consultation directly with persons with intellectual disabilities and ensuring that they are represented.”
Ms Rogers thanked Ms Furbert for supporting and endorsing the plan.
She said: “Administrators and clinicians have recognised the roadblocks that make it challenging for those with intellectual disabilities to experience connectedness, self-determination and hope.
“Families and carers have shared their feelings of helplessness as their loved one ages out of the education system and overnight becomes a vulnerable adult with no protective legislation or road map to assist them to navigate supports that are available.”
She said the steering committee had three main objectives: “To support an integrated response across the ministries of health, social development and seniors, and education, to ensure the creation of a National Stakeholder Oversight Group under the appropriate ministry for the purpose of plan accountability; to ensure ongoing action plan development and implementation; and to define, develop and implement co-ordinated actions and initiatives under the five priority areas stated by the minister.”
She added: “While the steering committee is made up representatives from community organisations, the National Stakeholder Oversight Group is meant to be led by clients and family representatives. Inclusion is at the heart of this national plan and the ideals of the quote, ‘nothing about me without me,’ have been embedded in this plan and the consultation process.”
In Bermuda, there are an estimated 400 to 500 adults and 125 children with intellectual disabilities.
Organisations involved in helping to drive the initiatives include WindReach, Tomorrow’s Voices, K Margaret Carter Centre, Ageing and Disability Services, Dame Marjorie Bean Hope Academy, Intellectual Disability Services at MWI and parents and carers.
The consultation period is from May 17 to May 31. The draft plan summary is available at www.forum.gov.bm. A virtual town hall consultation takes place on May 24 at 6.30pm.