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‘End the culture of institutionalisation’

THE “catastrophic and emotional impacts” on young disabled people who have been forced to live in nursing homes has been highlighted by Clare campaigners ahead of plans for an online event this December.
Clare Leader Forum are hosting ‘Empower’, a concert with a host of special guests, aimed at raising awareness of the need for a “better future for younger people deprived of their liberty in nursing homes.”
The free event, which goes live on December 3 at 7pm, will also celebrate International Day of Disabled People.
Those taking part will include Anne Rynne, Shannon Sisters, Fionnathan, Ann Marie Flanagan, Paddy Mulcahy, Marie Griffin, the Donnellan Dancers and many more.
Ms Flanagan of the Clare Leader Forum explains, “We will be showcasing a number of very talented artists, some disabled themselves and also some local allies. This concert will be a real show of solidarity with young people forced to stay in nursing homes.
“Through no fault of their own they are restricted from experiencing cultural and other rights. We will be using this as a platform to celebrate the human rights of disabled people, and the fact that we all, as human beings, are interested in the arts and culture.”
In May of this year, the Ombudsman published the Wasted Lives report into the lives of younger people in nursing homes.
The HSE reported that, at 30 June 2020, there were 1,320 people under 65 years of age supported by the Nursing Homes Support Scheme.
“In every county in Ireland there are young disabled people forced to live in nursing homes and Clare isn’t any exception,” said Ms Flanagan who has been appointed to the national expert advisory group on moving younger people out of nursing homes.
“There are two main issues. Stopping the practice, making sure people with disabilities can live in the community with the supports they need. And also to focus on people who are already there, helping them move to their place of choice.”
The government committed €3 million in 2021 for a pilot project to move people out of nursing homes. However this is not enough she says, calling for an end to “the culture of institutionalising” for all with housing needs.
“That funding is to move 18 people countrywide, with only two people in the Mid West region, so we are starting at a low base. If you look at the mother and baby homes, with refugees and asylum seekers in direct provision. We need to end the culture of institutionalising people who have housing and support needs, who maybe historically seen by the state as not worthy of these supports. There is a cultural, political, systemic response to institutionalisation, and we need to shine a light on it.
“I hope through the concert and working with other organisations that rather than responding to this as separate issues, that we look at it as a state response to people who have housing and accommodation and income needs.”
She says younger disabled people having to live in nursing homes “is completely inappropriate, and it is ablist.”
“It is discrimination, just because somebody has a disability that they should be forced to live with older people. Where the day-to-day activities, the lack of access to community, the lack of access to employment opportunities, to engaging with family and culture, has serious affects on people’s mental health and self esteem. The Wasted Lives report really highlights the serious impact on people’s psychological state and well being. And what does this say to society? It reinforces this idea that disabled people are sub human, that we don’t have the same wants, needs and desires and rights as non-disabled people, which is absolutely untrue. It can have catastrophic and emotional impacts on people.”
To get the link to the event contact clareleader@gmail.com. There will also be a livestream on YouTube with the assistance of Clare PPN.

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