"Acknowledging the human rights of every living person in our society is crucial in the battle against the ill-treatment of those who have been considered unable to care for themselves. Although the quality of life and living conditions for people with disabilities have improved significantly over the past twenty years, there are still persisting shortcomings in treatment and care, and in how people with disabilities are perceived", stressed Xamuel Gonzalez Westling, Member of Hofors Municipal Council (Sweden).
"We need a more community-based system of care to become a high priority for all EU Member States, and for deinstitutionalisation to be carried out in a way that upholds the rights of the target group and guarantees the best possible outcome for those affected", he urged.
His draft opinion on "Deinstitutionalization of the care system at local and regional level" was unanimously backed by CoR members.
Underlining the fact that "People with disabilities should have every possible opportunity to become self-sufficient members of society", Westling calls in his opinion for concrete measures to counter stigmatisation, to train supporting staff with the right skills, to provide more appropriate support for children with disabilities and their parents (including better facilities at school), to reduce the need for guardianships and to enable people with disabilities to work in a way which suits their own personal attributes.
"It will only be possible to move people out of large institutions and special hospitals if alternative, more community-based forms of care have been drawn up and put into place", he pointed out.
Last but not least, the opinion stresses that care systems are different in each country and the transition towards a community-based care must therefore be adapted to the local specificity and involve the concerned communities as well as users and their families.