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Inequalities in Respite Service Provision: Insights from a National, Longitudinal Study of People with Intellectual Disabilities

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Respite or short breaks are frequently sought by parents and demand for them usually exceeds their availability. Methods 

Using data from a national database in Ireland of around 16 000 persons living with family carers, the availability of overnight respite provision was monitored over an 8-year period along with the recorded needs for such services. Results 

Despite marked rises in the number of people receiving respite breaks resulting from increased government funding, there were marked inequalities in the availability of provision across the country. In recent years the inequalities decreased but still remained. The proportion of families requiring breaks also rose and a similar pattern of inequalities were found here too. Only a small proportion of families who had a recorded need in 1999 were receiving respite services 8 years later and over one third had a continuing need recorded. Conclusion 

This study highlighted some of the complexities in reducing inequalities in the provision of respite services and in identifying the need for them. It would be advantageous to develop more explicit criteria regarding the need for respite provision and to record the family’s preferences for the form this provision might take. These adjustments would add to the value of any national database as a service planning tool.
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Keywords: Ireland; family carers; inequality; intellectual disability; respite; short breaks

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Nursing Research, University of Ulster, Ulster, UK 2: Health Research Board, Dublin, Ireland 3: National Institute of Intellectual Disability, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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