Innovative Practice 2019 on Independent Living and Political Participation

Personal Ombudsmen Enhance Self-Determination

Since 1995, PO-Skåne – an NGO based in the Skåne province of Sweden – has been working as a contractor for local governments as well as in rural areas to provide personal ombudsmen and a self-determination coordinator for people with psychosocial disabilities. A personal ombudsman (PO) assists individuals in taking control of their own situation, identifies their care needs, and ensures that they receive the help they need. In 2017 the organization employed a self-determination coordinator (referred to as a BISAM) charged with working alongside POs in group homes; and in that year the POs served more than 600 people.

“This is revolutionary! This is earth-shaking!”

One elderly facilitator - a psychiatrist - at a conference in Lisbon, who became so enthusiastic on hearing about the PO-Skåne Personal Ombudsman
About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:Personal ombudsmen
Organisation:PO-Skåne
Country
of Implementation
Sweden

FACTS & FIGURES

  • As of 2018, the PO service was offered in 14 municipalities in the province of Skåne.
  • PO-Skåne currently employs 20 POs and one self-determination coordinator.

PROBLEMS TARGETED

Persons with psychosocial disabilities in Sweden usually live in the community, either in apartments of their own or in group-homes, mostly with restricted self-determination.

SOLUTION, INNOVATION, AND IMPACT

Personal Obmudsman Presentation of PO-Skåne's new service BISAM

For more than 20 years, PO-Skåne has been providing support in decision-making for persons with mental health issues or psychosocial disabilities. Key to this support is the use of full-time personal ombudsmen (POs), who are highly skilled persons – much like lawyers and social workers – who do outreach work and establish trusting relationships with individuals in need of support

In 2017, PO-Skåne introduced a new service provision called BISAM (a self-determination coordinator), assigned to the southern city of Lund. Whereas a PO works exclusively on behalf of their individual clients, the BISAM is charged with supporting all the tenants in a particular group home on a full-time basis. POs and the BISAM reach people with psychosocial disabilities step-by-step by making contact, developing communications, establishing a relationship, and initiating a dialogue. Importantly, the PO and the BISAM do not act according to what they think is in their client’s best interest, but rather only carry out what their client asks them to do.

FUNDING, OUTLOOK AND TRANSFERABILITY

Contracts with the municipalities are usually for two years. Some are extended automatically, others must be negotiated for a new period. The personal ombudsmen and the self-determination coordinator work full-time and are paid by PO-Skåne; in turn, the local government pays PO-Skåne according to the contract a sum that covers salaries, expenses, in-service training, and overhead costs.

PO-Skåne started with two POs working in three municipalities and is now serving half of the 33 municipalities in the province. The PO system has been replicated elsewhere in Sweden, and PO-Skåne is working on transferring the programme to other countries. The organization currently offers training to interested organizations and will start to support PO-Kiev, in the Ukraine, in 2019.

Personal Ombudsman Japanese study visit to PO-Skåne

FACTSHEET

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LINKS AND FURTHER READING