Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Anne Rabbitte TD, today welcomed the development by the HSE of a telephone support service for the autistic community.
Minister Rabbitte said:
Today, I very much welcome the news that the HSE are developing, on a pilot basis, an Autism Phone Help Line. Since becoming Minister, I have made it a priority to meet with families of children with special needs to hear their concerns. I know that some experience frustration trying to navigate accessing services. The help line is not intended to be a counselling service or a crisis/emergency service, but I hope that this additional telephone support service will provide assistance and guidance for those who have questions and need information about services.
As well as being able to provide clear, concise information and resources about autism, I really think this will help provide more signposting of supports in place to help people, such as welfare services and community health care, as well as in areas such as employment. A lot of information is accessible online but for those why may not have sufficient access, or perhaps prefer talking to someone, the help line could offer a real lifeline for them.
Following publication in 2018 of the Review of the Irish Health Services for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, the HSE established an ASD Programme Board. The HSE has begun to implement a programme of awareness raising, providing information resources for children and parents, to deliver a campaign to assist in creating awareness of the challenges, needs and experiences of people with autism and to build capacity and competence amongst key professionals working with autism.
The HSE will over the coming months advertise for expressions of interest from Organisations with the relevant core competences and experience who would be interested in tendering to work with the HSE to develop a pilot phone help line which may eventually have wider application across all Disability Services. I welcome this development and I look forward to the help line being operational later this year.
The HSE are currently implementing the recommendations of the “Review of the Irish Health Services for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder 2017”. A key recommendation in this Report is to build awareness of Autism and services/supports available to Autistic People.
As part of this work the HSE intends to develop on a pilot basis an Autism Phone Help Line which will:
- Answer general questions about autism.
- Highlight where and how you access support services in an individual’s local area.
- Provide written resources that might be useful.
- Provide information on other Organisations that may be able to provide help.
- Explain and talk through how to go about explaining autism to other people and services.
- Provide information on how to access Welfare Services, Community Health Care, Employment etc.
The Help Line is not intended to be a Counselling Service or a Crisis/Emergency Service.
The HSE will over the coming months advertise for expressions of interest from Organisations with the relevant core competences and experience who would be interested in partnering with the HSE to develop a pilot phone help line which may eventually have wider application across all Disability Services.
The HSE are currently in the process of developing criteria for the implementation of the phone help line and will advertise for expressions of interest from competent service providers by the end of May 2021. It is envisaged that the help line will be available in Q4 2021.
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