Disability Watchdog: Small Institutions in Spain

Small Institutions offered as an Independent Living alternative to the residential resource.

Issue that was addressed:

On October 1st, the Association L’Auro organized in Castellón (Spain) the I Conference about Independent Living programmes for disabled people, with the title: “Welcome to the Independent republic of our home”. The programmes were referred to housing resources.

Enil attended to this event as a promotion of the Independent Living.
Four associations presented their programmes: “L’Auro”, “Trébol” , “Adiem” and “Ivadis”. All the programmes promoted the supervised houses as an Independent living alternative opposite the institutions. They talked about de-institutionalization, but only one of the associations, “Adiem” presented the programme as a preparatory phase to jump from the institution to a real independent living model, not as a real IL resource.

One of the speakers, IVADIS, the Disabilty Institute of Valencia, presented their programme of “small institutions” for mental disabled people, 30 supervised houses as the independent living alternative to the residency. 1000 mental and intellectual disabled people were promoted to leave the residencies (property of IVADIS) and included in the IL programme, 4 out of the 1000 were encouraged to leave this new alternative in order to try a “normalized” life, 3 of the 4 have returned to the supervised flat.

ADIEM, Association for the defence and integration of mental and intellectual disabled people, on the contrary, presented their supervised houses programme as a springboard for disabled people who whish to live an independent, integrated and normal lifestyle. In their programme they include the study of the person’s needs, normalization, rehabilitation, the person’s autonomy and sufficiency. They work actively for their empowerment. In their houses, there live 4-6 people, which allows a better resolution and life quality.

Measurements taken and Results of the action/follow up:

Enil denounced the bad use of the Independent living definitions during some of the speeches, we highlighted that a supervised house is not considered a model of Independent Living because of their policies: organized timetables, programmed life, organized leisure-time activities “in group”, restricted access for visitors, time-limits for entrance and exit… these all are the conditions of an small institution.

Enil works actively to identify and promote Independent Living Values. De-institutionalization is one of the objectives, in Spain we are still far away from this reality, the first step in the awareness of the Independent Living philosophy and the active fight for the defence of the rights collected in the UN Convention. We demand our right to live where we want and with whom we desire, this is Independent Living.


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