Personal assistance services in Ireland: a capability approach to understanding the lived experience of disabled people

ESRI Research Bulletin Articles provide short summaries of work published by ESRI researchers and overviews of thematic areas covered by ESRI programmes of research. Bulletin Articles are designed to be easily accessible to a wide readership. A reference or references to the full publication is included at the start of each Bulletin article.

December 2, 2022
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A personal assistant is defined as someone “employed by the person with a disability to enable them to live an independent life. The personal assistant provides assistance, at the discretion and direction of the person with the disability, thus promoting choice and control for the person with the disability to live independently”. Personal assistance services are provided primarily to persons aged 18-65 with physical and sensory disabilities; persons with disabilities over the age of 65 are not eligible. Personal assistance (PA) has been a key support for disabled Irish people for many decades, but evidence shows that there is a lack of national standards for allocation, provision and data collection.

Our research examines whether PA users are satisfied with the PA service and whether satisfaction levels vary with their location, the level of support they receive, the length of time they have been availing of PA or other factors. We also examine challenges that PA service users encounter in using and benefitting from PA services and recommendations they have for changes and improvements to the PA system.