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Clarecastle brain injury unit underfunded

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A shortage of funds is hindering Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) Ireland from providing services at Clarecastle.

Founded in 2000 as the Peter Bradley foundation, ABI Ireland enables people between the ages of 18 and 65 with an acquired brain injury to live an independent life by providing them with a supportive living environment.

Clare TD Michael Harty (IND) highlighted in Dáil Éireann recently that the section 39 organisation is struggling due to lack of funds. He said the voice of ABI Ireland is not being heard even though it delivers services that would normally be delivered by the State. “Some 35% of the disability budget is spent by section 39 organisations but 2/3 of disability services are delivered by section 39 organisations. The State is heavily reliant on the sector and gets excellent value for the money it spends in the sector.

“Unfortunately, the level of funding is the real problem. A lack of funding leads to a struggle in delivering the range of services, in delivering the quality of services, and in the delivery of the absolutely essential governance that section 39 organisations require, and which is demanded of them. Essentially, the lack of funding leads to difficulties in recruitment and retention of staff. This is one of the huge problems facing section 39 organisations. They recruit and train staff, who then are tempted to go to work with section 38 organisations or to the HSE, where conditions of service and pay are much better”.

Harty highlighted that “many if not all” several 39 organisations “are operating at a financial deficit”. The GP outlined, “They have to beg for proper funding, not only from the Government but also from the public. They invariably provided services that are excellent value for money, with tight financial control underpinning elimination of any unnecessary costs. They are dependent on fundraising and the kindness of strangers to meet their bills and to bridge the deficit in their funding. They are not funded at the real cost of providing these desperately-needed, essential services that are delivered to people who are most dependent and most vulnerable”.

During a visit to ABI Ireland in Clarecastle, Harty saw individuals receiving treatment as they recover from road traffic accidents, strokes and in some cases serious assault. “This organisation takes people out of our acute hospitals and delivers them to community services, allowing them to live within their communities, either independently or supported. This is an example of a section 39 organisation that is struggling to deliver excellent services and is underfunded”.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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