More than 1,000 younger people with disabilities are living in long-term care such as nursing homes throughout Ireland, according to the Disability Federation of Ireland.
The organisation has described the situation as a "scandal" and said placing people under the age of 65 into nursing home settings is inappropriate for their health and social care needs and leads to social exclusion.
The charity says these people should be moved to new, smaller-scale accommodation in the community.
Disability Federation of Ireland Chief Executive John Dolan has said there are people in their 40s with a disability currently living in nursing homes.
CEO of Inclusion Ireland has said that it's likely the number of younger people with disabilities living in long-term care facilities is more than the one thousand figure as reported.
Speaking to RTÉ ' Drivetime programme Paddy Connolly said that the extent of the situation is not known because there is no national audit of the figures.
He said there is a long history in Ireland of institutionalising people and there needs to be a new model introduced, moving people into community based housing.
In a statement, the Health Service Executive said not all people with disabilities are inappropriately placed in a nursing home.
The HSE said purpose-built accommodation would be needed to respond to the need of younger people in nursing homes so they can live independently.
It said its remit is to provide support to these individuals but it said it was not currently funded to provide that support.
Read a special report by Aisling Kenny 'Old too Soon'.