Publication - Disability Sectoral Plan July 2006 - 11. Organisational Disability Awareness & Capacity Building

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11. Organisational Disability Awareness & Capacity Building


11.1 Introduction

The Department recognises that raising disability awareness and capacity building of expertise throughout the organisation and agencies under its remit, is fundamental to the successful implementation of this and subsequent Sectoral plans. In this regard, the Department proposes to undertake a series of activities and initiatives.

11.2 Mental Health Awareness

As at April 2006, there are 2,164 frontline staff working in the Department's Regional structure in the provision of customer services delivery across the nationwide local office, field services and facilitation networks.

The Regional Director's Office (RDO) provides ongoing support and direction to these staff to enable them perform their duties efficiently and effectively. As part of this remit, in consultation with staff and management, it regularly reviews the training available to ensure that new requirements which emerge within a changing work environment are matched by the timely delivery of appropriate training or information awareness sessions.

A number of submissions were received by the RDO for specific training for staff to increase their understanding of mental health issues in order to help equip them with the knowledge and skills required to deal more effectively with customers with mental Health issues. As a response to this identified training need, the RDO and Mental Health Ireland (MHI) is providing awareness sessions to frontline staff.

The objective of the course is to afford staff with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the issues associated with mental ill health and mental illness. This heightened awareness is aimed at assisting staff to engage and interact more meaningfully with customers with mental illness in the future. Similarly it will enable the Department to foster local contacts and networks with other agencies for the purposes of making appropriate referrals and providing an enhanced information service to customers.

In light of the preparation of the Sectoral Plan the RDO and MHI will continue to work in partnership towards the refinement of course content and structure. Modifications suggested during the evaluation were taken into account and have been incorporated as appropriate. The shared objective has been to design a generic programme which would be made more widely available to Regional staff on a nationwide basis. The course content which sets out to achieve the following:

  • Raise awareness of the interrelationship between mental and physical health
  • Create a greater understanding of what is meant by mental health, mental ill health and mental illness
  • Increase knowledge of the nature and systems of the main forms of mental illness
  • Help staff recognise when a customer is on medication and explore the appropriate responses
  • Cover the main elements of the Mental Health Act 2001
  • Provide details of the statutory mental health services and local voluntary mental health organisations
  • Assist participants translate the theory into practice through group discussions on relevant work-related case studies

It is envisaged that approximately 400 frontline staff from various offices will attend these sessions in 2006.

11.3 Diversity Training

The Department's Staff Development Unit are co‑coordinating the roll out of a 'Diversity Awareness' training programme. The training has been developed to help participants relate to diversity as an individual, rather than an abstract concept and to help people understand diversity as a personal issue.

The content of the course includes defining diversity, exploring the dimensions of diversity, exploring culture and the dimensions of cultures. In 2006 approximately 200 will receive this training. The training programme will be rolled to further staff throughout 2007.

11.4 Disability Awareness Training

The other initiatives that will be undertaken include:

  • A training needs analysis for Disability awareness will be undertaken in 2007 for frontline staff by the Department's Staff Development Unit
  • Disability awareness training for all staff of Information Services Division is being scheduled for 2006. Similarly all staff assigned to the administration of the Disability Allowance, Invalidity Pension and Carer's Allowance benefits schemes will receive advanced disability awareness training during 2006/2007.
  • A deafness awareness course is being held by the National Association of the Deaf for selected Departmental staff.
  • Provide training for staff based in Personnel/HR on the "reasonable accommodation" aspects of equality legislation, this in turn will be reflected in training and additional awareness raising measures for managers.
  • A training programme aimed at all Senior Managers within the Department is scheduled for the period of this plan. The programme is specifically aimed at creating a deeper understanding and appreciation of the issues associated with Disability management in the workplace, disability awareness, best practice and disability policy development and impact assessment.

A summary of the activities scheduled for progression over the period of the plan are detailed in Table 11.1. These activities are designed to complement the initiatives outlined in Section 8 with regard to the Human Resource function.



Performance Indicator

Ensure organisational disability awareness is enhanced throughout DSFA and at senior managerial level 

Undertake a Senior Managerial Disability training programme

Training programme complete by 2007. Number of senior managers trained


Undertake Disability awareness training needs analysis for DSFA staff

• Need analysis completed Quarter 1 2007.

• Training programme devised

• Rollout of training programme

• Number of staff trained 2007/2009  



• Mental Health Awareness training programme

• Diversity Awareness training programme.

• Disability awareness training of disability scheme and information services staff

Number of courses held and number of staff trained. Evaluation of and feedback from programme(s) 2006/2007


Provide additional advice & information to managers in order to assist them in their crucial role in supporting staff with disabilities

Delivery of training. Number of staff trained and completed by 2007

Last modified:25/09/2008

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