Jyrki Pinomaa writes about a recent case in Finland of boy being tied day and night. Finnish version of the article was published in Helsingin Sanomat.
The UN CRPD affirms for persons with disabilities the right to choose a place to live, with whom to live, and how to live. In Finland this is supported by strong disability law, which says that municipalities are responsible for arranging the provision of individual help and support.
Large institutions for people with intellectual disabilities have been closed in Finland. But the institutional way of providing services still seems to be alive. Medical care practices prevail services for people with intellectual disabilities. Person with intellectual disability needs help and support based on his or her individual needs to enable them to live independently. They don’t necessarily need nursing and care.
Presence, coexistence, appropriate guidance is needed. Where one person copes with a few weekly support visits, others may need another person’s presence and help twenty-four-seven. All help and support must ensure independent life based on the person’s own skills, and their full participation in the community.
Genuine, understanding approach. Respect for person’s human rights. Empathy, being human to a human. These are the tools needed.
Tied to a bed at night, to a chair during the day
A recent documentary on Finnish television showed a serious human rights violation in which a boy with autism was strapped to his bed during the nights, and in a chair during the days.
This went on for many years, and the service employees said it was approved by their supervisor. They did not dare to question it. The care home where this happened had been purchased 5 years ago by one of Finland’s a largest service providers owned by international venture capital.
Finnish municipalities have legal responsibility to arrange help and support to people with disabilities. The municipalities can either provide the service themselves or purchase it from private providers.
During the past 15 years, with the adoption of a new public procurement law, hundreds of family-owned small service providers have been bought by large multinational companies. The provision of housing services for person with disabilities has gone through a structural change. It has been changed into a market, and municipalities fulfil their responsibility mostly through tendering and price competition.
The ideology of tendering has its foundation in the fact that the service can be standardised and commercialised. But the needs for help and support of a person with intellectual disability are always individual, and there are no standard customers or needs that would fit into the service provider’s pre-configured concepts.
Intentionally providing a service without adequate resources, or without regard to individual needs ultimately results in inhuman treatment, as the documentary just showed.
Ultimately, the responsibility lies with the municipality and with the service provider. Service provider which acts illegally, with contempt for human rights and lives, cannot remain without consequences.
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