Innovative Practice 2019 on Independent Living and Political Participation

A Home, a Cafe and Employment to Promote Deinstitutionalization

In 2016 the Psychoanalytic Association, a Kazakhstan NGO, began a supportive independent living (SIL) programme in the Almaty region to help people with intellectual disabilities move out of closed institutions. To this end, the organization set up a Training Café, employing ten people with psychosocial disabilities who had been living in closed institutions. As of 2018, the Psychoanalytic Association oversees six group homes, two cafés, and 20 employed beneficiaries, all of whom now live on their own. In addition, three women and two men were returned their legal rights.

“Our beneficiaries have lived in institutions for many years. They are like birds with broken wings. We give them security and a safe place to treat their wings, and then we teach them to fly.”

About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:From Dependency to Independence: Supportive Independent Living
Organisation:Psychoanalytic Association
of Implementation


  • The SIL programme aims to move 60 people with intellectual disabilities out of closed institutions and provide them with employment and life skills.
  • To date, some 450 mental health professionals have received SIL training.


The Kazakhstan legislature provides no alternative to residential institutions for people with intellectual disabilities. Further, psychiatry-based facilities have inadequate rules and standards, as well as few trained professionals to implement supportive independent living.


Three persons do weekly grocery shopping by themselves.

For Kazakhstan, supportive independent living is a new concept. In 2012 the government began to implement a plan of deinstitutionalization, and the Psychoanalytic Association is one of two NGOs providing SIL for Kazakhstanis living in closed institutions – the result of a policy change within the Department of Employment and Social Services. The pilot project aims to move 60 people with intellectual disabilities out of closed institutions, provide them with employment and teach them such life skills as how to buy groceries, pay utilities and save money.

Beneficiaries include 20 people who have left psychiatric institutions to be part of the pilot, while more than 230 people still in institutions are receiving training and legal support as a preparatory step to SIL. The first Training Café began with ten employees with psychosocial disabilities while still living in institutions. In 2018, the NGO was overseeing six group homes, two cafés and 20 employees – ten of whom cover most of their own expenses. Another dimension of the programme is to advocate for people stripped of their legal capacity. Of six ongoing cases, five people have had their legal rights returned to date.


The initial pilot project was supported by the Soros–Kazakhstan Foundation. Starting in 2017, the Department of Employment and Social Services agreed to finance the programme until it becomes a fully government-based social services provision.

Today, the Psychoanalytic Association programme is partially self-sustaining, with social entrepreneurship in the training cafés helping the beneficiaries to earn a living. The organization also gets income from selling services to mental health professional such as training in SIL and supportive employment techniques.

The Psychoanalytic Association programme is currently operational in the cities of Almaty and Astana. The government is revising the national Standard of Special Service Provision.

Three people in the kitchen.


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