Service provider with contempt for human rights and lives cannot go without consequences

Jyrki Pinomaa writes about a recent case in Finland of boy being tied day and night.

Service provider with contempt for human rights and lives cannot go without consequences

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聽CRPD聽affirms for聽persons with disabilities聽the聽right聽to choose聽a聽place聽to live, with whom to聽live,聽and how to聽live.聽In Finland this is supported by strong聽disability law, which聽says聽that聽municipalities聽are responsible for聽arranging the聽provision of individual聽help聽and support.

Large institutions for聽people with intellectual disabilities聽have been聽closed聽in Finland.聽But the institutional way of聽providing services聽still seems to be alive. Medical聽care聽practices聽prevail聽services聽for people with intellectual disabilities.聽Person with聽intellectual聽disability needs help and support based on his or her individual needs to enable聽them聽to live independently.聽They聽don鈥檛 necessarily need nursing and care.

Presence,聽coexistence,聽appropriate guidance聽is聽needed.聽Where one聽person聽copes with a few weekly support visits,聽others聽may need聽another person鈥檚 presence聽and help聽twenty-four-seven. All聽help聽and support聽must聽ensure聽independent life based on聽the person鈥檚聽own skills,聽and聽their聽full participation in聽the聽community.

Genuine,聽understanding聽approach. Respect for聽person鈥檚聽human聽rights. Empathy,聽being human to聽a聽human. These聽are the tools聽needed.

Tied to a bed at night, to a chair during the day

A聽recent聽documentary on聽Finnish television聽showed聽a serious human rights violation in which a聽boy with autism was聽strapped to his bed during the nights,聽and聽in聽a chair during the days.聽

This went on聽for many years,聽and the聽service聽employees said聽it was聽approved by their聽supervisor.聽They did not dare to question it.聽The聽care聽home where this happened had been purchased聽5聽years ago by one of Finland鈥檚 a largest service providers owned by international venture capital.聽

Who’s responsible?

Finnish municipalities聽have聽legal聽responsibility聽to聽arrange聽help聽and support聽to people with disabilities. The municipalities聽can聽either聽provide聽the service聽themselves or purchase it from private providers.

During the past聽15聽years,聽with聽the adoption of聽a聽new public procurement law, hundreds of family-owned small service providers have been bought by large multinational companies.聽The provision聽of聽housing services for person with聽disabilities聽has聽gone through a structural change. It has聽been changed into聽a聽market,聽and municipalities聽fulfil聽their responsibility聽mostly聽through聽tendering and聽price competition.

The ideology of tendering聽has its foundation聽in the fact that the service can be standardised and commercialised.聽But the needs for help and support of a person with聽intellectual聽disability are always individual, and there are no standard customers or needs that would fit into聽the service provider鈥檚聽pre-configured聽concepts.

Intentionally providing a service聽without adequate resources,聽or without regard to individual needs聽ultimately results聽in inhuman treatment, as聽the聽documentary聽just showed.

Ultimately, the responsibility lies with the聽municipality聽and with the service provider.聽Service provider which聽acts illegally, with contempt聽for聽human rights and聽lives, cannot聽remain聽without consequences.

Our work brings the voice of people with intellectual disabilities and their families where decisions about their future are made.

This has always been incredibly important. It is even more so with the Covid pandemic drastic impact on their rights and lives.

Being visible and vocal on issues directly affecting millions of people requires your support.聽

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