On the second day of the Conference for the European Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), together with the European Expert Group on the transition from institutional to community based care held a seminar to launch the FRA report ‘From institutions to community living for persons with disabilities: perspectives from the ground’.
The Report aims at contributing to an effective transition to community-based care by capturing concrete evidence of what is and what is not working on the ground through a fieldwork research in five EU Member States at different stages of the deinstitutionalisation process: Bulgaria, Finland, Ireland, Italy and Slovakia. The fieldwork aimed to give actors involved in the deinstitutionalisation process the opportunity to share their knowledge, experiences and perceptions of what drives the process forward, and the barriers that hold it back.
This report looks at the context of deinstitutionalisation, the common understanding of what deinstitutionalisation and independent living mean, the essential features of deinstitutionalisation and the measures to achieve successful deinstitutionalisation. It highlights the different perspectives of the wide range of stakeholders involved in deinstitutionalisation including those directly concerned such as people with disabilities and their families, those responsible for planning and implementing the transition, national and local policymakers and staff and managers of institutions and community-based services; as well as DPOs and NGOs as well as members of local communities.
The key elements suggested by participants to make deinstitutionalisation a reality are the following ones:
- A real commitment to deinstitutionalisation,
- A change in attitudes towards persons with disabilities,
- Active cooperation between the people involved in the deinstitutionalisation process,
- Availability of guidance to support the deinstitutionalisation process,
- An effective practical organisation of the deinstitutionalisation process.
The report highlights a frequent concern of families about the lack of appropriate support services in the community with a subsequent fear for the safety and security of their relatives if they start living independently in the community. This contributes to resistance towards deinstitutionalisation efforts. On the other hand, all the participants with personal experience of deinstitutionalisation emphasised the positive impact it had on their lives. For persons with disabilities, it prompts greater choice and control, more personal space and privacy, and better relationships with staff, families and the wider community.