Disabled Children in Need of Constant Medical Care will be Raised in Family-type Residential Centres
The Government of Bulgaria approved amendments to the Social Assistance Act by-laws, which regulate the placement of disabled children and adults in need of constant medical care in Family-type Residential Centres. These changes come with the Government decision to close down eight residential institutions for children aged 0 to 3, which was Bulgaria’s commitment under the Direction: Family Project implemented by the Ministry of Health and funded by the 2007 – 2013 Human Resources Development Operational Programme of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies.
The enforcement regulations to the Social Assistance Act set up the rules and conditions, which have to be followed in order to place disabled children and adults in need of constant medical care in family-type environment, as well as the criteria to be met by the centres offering medical care on on-going basis. It provides for a nurse to be available 24/7 on the spot and a medical doctor for consultations, who will be hired by the Centre or secured by a hospital designated by the Minister of Health.
The objective of this new regulation is to make sure that children in need of constant medical care will be provided the support they need in the community after the existing residential care institutions accommodating children aged 0 to 3 are ultimately closed.
The above is an accurate Bulgarian–English translation of a 5th of August news posted on the Government website dealing with deinstitutionalisation and social inclusion. Does it sound like deinstitutionalisation approach? Certainly not from Independent Living stand point. It does not seem to be in compliance with the European Guidelines for Transition from Institutional to Community-Based Care, either. One of the main factors of deinstitutionalisation and provision of community-based services is the separation of the place of residence from the place where services are provided. It is how it works in mainstream society – no one has social workers, doctors or nurses at home. When people need professional services they visit professionals at their offices. Doctors, nurses and social workers occupy hospitals, health- and residential care facilities. In our, Bulgarian, case the so called Family-type Residential Centres are nothing but institutions of care in smaller and newer buildings. They have been set up as part of the 2007 – 2013 Human Resources Development Operational Programme of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies funded by the European Social Fund with one of its main lines of operation targeting deinstitutionalisation of disabled children and adults. Why is Euro-money still going into institutional care? No doubt that these ‘family-type centres’ have nothing to do with a family, let alone with a community! They prove that the Bulgarian Government does not intend to deinstitutionalise services for disabled people or run mainstreamed disability policies.
And last but not least, no one can be in ‘need of constant medical care’ for life. Neither are these children or adults been taken such a good care 24/7. And if – by chance – someone survives, when will they leave this ‘community based service’ and where will they go?
This short report is to remind the European Commission that it is its officials’ duty is to make sure that human rights of all European citizens are respected and Member-States’ policies are in line with the values and principles embedded in Europe 2020 Programme! Bulgaria does not seem to apply these principles. We are looking forward to seeing the response of the European Union to such wrong national disability policies.
Photo: Picture of the Bulgarian Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs