Growing demand for Independent Advocacy in Ireland highlighted in National Advocacy Service for People with Disabilities (NAS) and Patient Advocacy Service Annual Reports for 2022.
The National Advocacy Service for People with Disabilities (NAS) saw its waiting list an increase of 55% from 161 in January 2022 to 250 by December 2022. This figure has continued to grow in 2023 with numbers increasing to 262 by June 2023. NAS board chairperson Rosemary Smith linked increase to the ongoing impact of the pandemic.
“While these were immediate changes for many in society, the shift back to ‘normal’ life was slower for a lot of people who access our services and the residual impact will require significant management for some time to come” she declared.
Some of the most common issues faced by people with disabilities included accessing housing, healthcare settings, and issues related to their capacity to make their own decisions.
NAS provided advocacy support in 3,576 pieces of work, which is an almost 50% increase in the services casework since 2015. Despite this NAS has not received an increase in funding for any new permanent posts since 2011.
Joanne Condon, National Manager for NAS said:
“2022 continued the trend of a growing demand for advocacy services in Ireland. We have seen a substantial increase in our waiting lists and this demonstrates a clear need for increased funding for advocacy services for people with disabilities.”
NAS is a registered charity, funded by the Citizens Information Board to work with adults living with disabilities.
The Patient Advocacy Service also published its annual report, finding a remarkable 54% increase in contacts compared to the previous year. They provided support in 1,859 enquiries, covering a total of 6,101 separate complaint issues.
This Service helps people with queries about either nursing homes or hospitals, with 1,346 complaining about public facilities and 62 individuals sharing their concerns about private nursing homes.
Communication issues were highlighted when it came to addressing the issues of people seeking advocacy. Some of the problems they encountered included the lack of access to information, poor communication between patients and their healthcare providers, and the difficulty in contacting healthcare units.
“The Patient Advocacy Service continued to receive enquiries related to the ongoing impact of the covid-19 pandemic, as restrictions and disruptions disproportionately affected the delivery of healthcare services throughout the country,” they said.
This free, confidential service is hosted by NAS and funded by the Department of Health with offices in Cork, Galway and Dublin. National manager Georgina Cruise said: “The extension of our remit to private nursing homes demonstrates our continuing growth.”
The Annual Report for NAS can be found here: https://advocacy.ie/app/uploads/2023/07/NAS-Annual-Report-2022.pdf
The Annual Report for the Patient Advocacy Service can be found here: https://www.patientadvocacyservice.ie/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/Patient-Advocacy-Service-Annual-Report-2022.pdf