ENIL Valencia Team was invited by the professor of the MA Degree in “Social-Medical Care for Disabled People”, at the University of Psychology of Valencia, to hold a Conference for students and faculty about Independent Living and Personal Assistance.
On June 22nd, Itziar Fernández, ENIL’s Regional Coordinator of the South of Europe and Pilar O’Connor, an active member of the Forum for Independent Living and Diverty (FVID), went to the university and talked to the students and faculty about Independent Living, Personal Assistance and the difference between this role and a social-medial carer.
It is important that the Independent Living basis and philosophy were included at this MA Degree; it would be convenient that it was one of the subjects included in the study-plan or, at least, it should be taken up in several classes along the year. The Spanish Law that regulates the requirements to work as a Personal Assistant, states that the PA must be qualified in the field of Social-Medical care, so the future professionals of this field should be introduced in our philosophy.
Pilar O’Connor talked about her own experience as user of PA and also as a Manager of a programme of Personal Assistance in Valencia that she run for several years. She talked about the role of a PA, the relation between the PA and the user, the qualities that a PA must fulfil, (responsibility, discretion, empathy, receptiveness), but over all, she clarified that a PA is not a carer. PAs are not the ones who make the decisions, they are a human tool for the user. She talked about trust, the PA is someone who must be absolutely reliable, in this sense, communication is essential.
Itziar Fernández projected a presentation made by Javier Ruiz, activist and member of FVID that explained the differences between the role of a PA and a Professional carer, and she talked about the Social Services offered by the Administration. She also offered an update on Spanish disability laws, about the new decree that regulates the requirements and provision for PA users in Valencia. She also talked about the CRPD and Human Rights as the basis of Independent Living. She stated that Personal Assistance is not just a service provided by the administration; it is a human right of all disabled people.
The 30 students of the MA Degree, some faculty and other professionals such as a Valencian Architect specialized in Universal Accessibility, listened and participated in the conferences, which were, as they expressed, very clarifying.
After the Conference, and due to the value of the information provided and the response and participation of the students, Ms. Sacramento Pinazo, the Director of the MA Degree, announced us that ENIL will be certified by the University as experts in Independent Living and she invited ENIL to contact her in September in order to plan several conferences along the year that will be considered as part of the study-plan of the MA Degree.