THE head of Cope Foundation, which supports people with intellectual disabilities throughout West Cork, said they need funding of more than €30m per annum to meet the rapidly growing demands of its service.
CEO Sean Abbott said: ‘In the 30 years that I have worked with Cope Foundation, I have never experienced delays this bad. It’s disheartening both for myself, and my colleagues across the Foundation, when we have to consistently say no to families who are desperately seeking help. As waiting lists lengthen, we face the very real possibility that children who need support for Autism Spectrum Disorders will age-out of the system and become adults without having received the appropriate intervention and support.
‘Equally, we have people whom we support who are couch-surfing between family members as they have nowhere to live on a permanent basis. For each of these statistics, there are immeasurable challenges facing these individuals and their families.’
There are currently 400 children waiting assessment for autism spectrum disorder. Of those who have been assessed, there are over 1,350 children currently awaiting specialist intervention. Some have been waiting years.
Of the adults requiring support, there are 174 currently on a residential waiting list, with many having nowhere to call their permanent home.There are 649 adults identified as having “changing needs”, who currently require further intervention and support to meet these changed needs.
‘To properly address the challenges posed by the increased demand on its service, Cope Foundation has identified the need for an additional investment of €34m per annum between now and 2023. Cope Foundation has already engaged with the HSE to make them aware of the need. However, given the scale of the challenge, Cope Foundation is also looking to dramatically increase funding from both corporate donors and the general public,’ said Sean.
He highlighted the fact that 40% of the adults currently supported by Cope Foundation are over the age of 45.
‘The organisation also urgently needs to design and develop a range of individualised services and supports as that population ages. This includes the purchase of assistive technology solutions to ensure these people maintain their independence, and do not require increasingly costly interventions,’ he said.
‘The people of Cork have been incredibly generous in their support of Cope Foundation since its inception in 1957. However, there has never been a time when that support has been needed more. In the months ahead, we will be undertaking a significant awareness campaign of the challenges facing Cope, and outlining ways that people and businesses can help.’
Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil spokesperson on disability Margaret Murphy O’Mahony has accused the government of ignoring repeated warnings about a funding crisis in the disability sector.
‘The crisis being described by Cope Foundation will come as no surprise to anyone working in the disability sector. The lack of resources is the common thread running through these organisations as they try to deal with increased demand with limited resources. I met with management and staff in Cope a few months ago and they outlined a very stark situation, which I then highlighted. When will the government realise that our health system will not be able to function without organisations like Cope?’ she asked.