Preparing people with psychosocial and mental disabilities to live in their own homes
- Pro ACT Suport Association
- Country of Implementation
- Start Year
- First published
“I am now living independently, and since this year I am a happily newly married woman!” Georgiana P.,former user of Pro ACT Suport services
People with disabilities who have spent most of their lives in residential institutions often lack the skills and capacities that enable them to live independently in the community.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
To promote the social inclusion of people with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities, the Pro ACT Suport Association has developed Preparation for Independent Living Centres – a programme designed to support individuals to develop their independent living skills through a personalized approach. Pro ACT integrates residents into common houses in the community by evaluating their skills and providing a customized programme for development implemented by professionals (social workers, psychologists, vocational counsellors, psychotherapists, etc.). Examples of daily activities include: preparing meals, personal hygiene, managing medications, completing household chores, coordinating transportation, continuing or enrolling in education, administering personal finances, and finding employment. As of 2018, the organization runs 11 Preparation for Independent Living Centres – seven in rented apartments in Bucharest and four in houses outside the city. Currently, there are 50 people aged 18 to 55 enrolled in the programme. Between 2012 and 2018, 16 people successfully moved on to independent lives, for example, by getting married, finding employment, or moving into rented accommodations.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
The Preparation for Independent Living Centres programme costs approximately $800,000 per year and is mostly financed funded through service contracts with local authorities which Pro ACT Suport bids for and through a grant from the Open Society Foundation. Pro ACT Suport is committed to changing the public mind-set towards persons with disabilities by providing technical assistance and training on deinstitutionalization to countries that are in the process of closing their institutions. Between 2012 and 2018, 130 people with disabilities were trained to develop life skills and to start a new life within the community. The programme was designed based on Romania’s specific situation, but the organization’s tools and methodology can be readily adapted to different country settings.
THE STORY OF GEORGIANA P., FORMER BENEFICIARY OF THE PRO ACT SUPORT ASSOCIATION’S SOCIAL SERVICES
“I was a girl with speech problems living on the streets, and now I am a happily married woman!”
My family was very poor. At the age of 13, I was not yet registered in school. After my mother passed away, my father couldn’t face all the responsibilities of raising me and my siblings and I was forced to live on the streets and beg for food. I was taken from the streets by the child protection services and spent ten years in different residential institutions for children, where at least I had food, clothes, and a chance to be registered in a special school. I have encountered many difficulties due to my slow thinking and speech defect. When I was 18, I was moved to an institution for adults with intellectual disabilities and I thought that this will now be my life – I will be stuck there, without any chance for a better, normal life. One day, however, I learned about the services of the Pro ACT Suport Association. The people from Pro ACT came several times to meet me and finally they took me to visit the house in Joita, a commune in Giurgiu County, 30 minutes driving from Bucharest. This was my chance, and I took it! As the name of the new house suggests (“Metamorfoze”), I become a different, new, person. I flourished. I discovered myself. I understood life, especially my life! I lived there with four other girls, and we were taught, helped, understood, and guided as I would have wanted my parents to do during my childhood. I received speech therapy and dental treatments; I have learned to cook, to sew, and to care for myself. I followed a vocational course and I soon found a job. And there I met my husband. We fell in love almost at first sight. I felt like a character from the Indian movies I like to watch. The social worker and psychologist from Pro ACT taught me what a relationship means. Soon my boyfriend invited me to meet his parents and I had the occasion to see what a real family looks like . . . and I got parents! They loved me and I loved them instantly. Soon after my boyfriend proposed to me all the Pro ACT employees started to organize my big day, my wedding! They have been my family. They helped me to get the wedding dress I wanted, they prepared the house and all the traditions for a Romanian wedding, they cried with me in the church and then danced with me at the wedding party. Yes, my life has changed, and I am so grateful for the support I received. The people from Pro ACT Suport will always be in my soul!