Milan Šveřepa, the co-chair of the European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care, wrote an interesting blog on the deinstitutionalisation process and people with intellectual disabilities. These issues were discussed in a seminar organized by the European Commission and Romanian authorities in Bucharest, in April 2019, in which Šveřepa was one of the speakers.
Romania has undertaken deinstitutionalisation initiatives in the past years. These figures reflect those efforts and national planning developments:
- Since 1997, the number of children living in residential settings has plummeted from 170,000 to about 17,300, with the biggest decline happening between 2001 and 2007.
- More than 5,000 children with disabilities live in residential settings, of which 1,400 reside in institutions run by public authorities.
- 18,000 adults live in institutions, of which 10,000 suffer from intellectual disabilities.
- The number of adults in institutions is surging, this may be because many do not receive home care and end up in institutions, or it may be due to a lack of community-based services in Romania.
- Romanian authorities plan to construct 50 new residential buildings and close the older care institutions.
In his blog, Šveřepa presents a series of recommendations to implement a stable deinstitutionalization process. He suggests that deinstitutionalization should focus on both children and adults, ‘ensuring [that] people can have healthy lives as citizens [and that they are] in full control of their lives’.
Moreover, the support from families that take care of people with disabilities should be a priority for the authorities, Šveřepa added, emphasizing the importance of the ‘existing housing structures (homes, flats) to provide accommodation for people leaving institutions’.
Ceva de Spus, Federatia Incluziune and Pentru voi—three Romanian organizations who are also members of Inclusion Europe—participated in the seminar. The issues they took up for debate included the legal capacity reform that was initiated three years ago in Romania, and which has still not been implemented. They also discussed the right to decide about one's own life, which according to the participants, is being hindered by Romanian authorities. Furthermore, the Romanian organizations proposed a set of actions that may assist people in their effort to leave institutional care for a more independent life.
Click on the link below to read the full blog.