In 2030, it will not be possible to accept people with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities in care institutions for long-term institutional care, but experts have no doubt that Lithuania will not be able to prepare for this, because community services will not be developed enough, and there will be a lack of sheltered housing.
Deinstitutionalization is the so-called transformation of nursing homes. Professor of the Department of Social Work of Vytautas Magnus University dr. Jonas Ruskus says, from the very beginning, the transformation is not taking place as it should be – it is focused on housing such people in group housing, not in independent housing.
The director of the Adakavos Social Services House, which is implementing the reorganization Kristina Anuliene says that the experiences of their institutions are varied. You also have to face community resistance.
Head of the Association of Personal Assistants Žilvinas Mišeikis creates another problem – it takes the easy way out and disempowers people with disabilities. J. Ruškus also talks about this.
In December, a discussion on this topic was held at the National Human Rights Forum. The participants of the discussion drew attention to the transformation being carried out too slowly, emphasizing that until now there are about 5,300 people in institutional care, and several hundred of them are waiting in line.
Group housing is a bad decision
According to J. Ruškaus, the transformation of institutional care homes is necessary for the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, but Lithuania has gone in the wrong direction from the very beginning.
J. Ruškus has been delving into these topics for many years, the scientist is a recognized expert in the field of disability, who actively participates in national and international projects aimed at justifying the necessity of ensuring the rights of the disabled and other vulnerable groups. He is also a United Nations expert, the first Lithuanian representative to become a member of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
“The provisions (at our place) are wrong and not according to the convention. Group living homes are being established. We may not realize that this is not a provision of the convention and does not promote the social inclusion or deinstitutionalization of people with disabilities at all. This has been going on since the beginning.
As many governments as there have been – they continue the same activities, the same investments, even though the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities said in 2016 that this is not the direction for Lithuania,” said J. Ruškus.
According to the aforementioned convention, people with disabilities should live independently, providing them with assistance in the community – where all people live: “And so that they are not kept in environments specially created for them, which is group living homes. Also, several years ago, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities clarified that group living homes are not a means of helping people with disabilities reintegrate into society.”
According to J. Ruškaus, Lithuania, having adopted the law on transformation ten years ago, may not have understood and did not know the essence and what is announced in the convention. However, even though a decade has already passed, the changes are very little.
Vidmantas Balkūnas / 15min photo / Professor Jonas Ruškus