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‘Complete burnout’ for people with disabilities and carers facing loss of support due to Covid-19

There is complete mental and physical burnout for people with disabilities and their carers, who continue to face a loss of support services due to the Covid-19 crisis.

The warning was issued to the Dáil's coronavirus committee this morning as Social Democrat TD Holly Cairns accused the government of leaving people with disabilities high and dry.

Inclusion Ireland CEO Enda Egan has said the situation remains an ongoing battle for people with disabilities:

“For many families, what we’re finding is that there is complete burnout mentally, physically and emotionally in terms of trying to juggle all these issues that Covid has brought about.”

The real concern for people is that they cannot see an end to this, there is no kind of light at the end of the tunnel.

He said the situation required immediate action: “The fundamentals of the Irish economy are strong, our capacity to borrow is not in doubt – we must invest now to minimise the damage to the lives and prospects of people with disabilities.”

He said a failure to address the situation would result in “the lives and the life years” of people being diminished.

Services lost

Human rights watchdog the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission said people with disabilities may have been discriminated against during the pandemic, with the state having a legal obligation to protect them and their rights.

John Dolan, CEO of the Disability Federation of Ireland, described the services that came to a standstill during the crisis:

“People that were going to day programmes, people that were going to school, respite and people who would have been getting regular therapy sessions and getting support from the Health Services in that way, physio, OT, speech and language, those things – that’s an outline of the services that stopped.”

He warned of the consequences of support networks being unprepared for a second wave of the virus:

“The lockdown had a heavy toll on the mental and physical health of people with disabilities and their family carers. Resilience will not be as high and will not be there if services are withdrawn.”