Having recently learnt about bad practices in the provision of care-services for people with disabilities in Belgium, France and Romania, the European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) highlights the need to monitor the quality standards of all types of social service provision in Europe and calls on the EU institutions to provide a technical response to avoid more scandals in the future as well as a political reaction based on a public hearing in the European Parliament.
Some European media have recently published that over 6.000 French persons with disabilities have been obliged to go to Belgian centers to receive care services due to a lack of such services in France. To make the situation even worst, some of these Belgium centers do not have the adequate infrastructure and lack sufficient trained staff to provide the necessary quality services. In addition, it has also come to our notice that cases of abuse have recently come to light in some Romanian centers, including at least two financed by EU structural funds. Thus, there are serious doubts regarding the availability and quality of the services which are provided in EU countries. There is also a growing criticism from Civil Society on the lack of action taken so far by public authorities to prevent these situations and comply with their Human Rights commitments; in the case of Romania, by the EU financing abuse in such residences.
According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), ratified by the three countries as well as concluded by the EU, persons with disabilities have the right to live independently and receive appropriate community-based services. An important aspect of quality service provision is that people with disabilities should be supported within their community; yet in the case of France, families were only really offered the possibility to receive services in another country, far away from their homes. Excellence and high quality services have to become common practice, being both inclusive and tailored to the individual needs.
From the Black Sea to the North Sea, more and more cases are coming to light. According to EASPD, this situation shows how important it is to support and help national, regional and local service providers and public authorities in the development of a community-based care system. EASPD, as a network of service providers is committed to help all organisations in their transition process by providing them the required expertise to promote the transition towards community-based services.
EASPD calls the EU institutions to address these problems by:
• Organising a Public Hearing on the matter by the European Parliament, involving public authorities, service providers, Organisations representing disabled people, civil society and experts at all levels.
• Ensuring by all means possible that structural funds are used to support the transition towards community-based services. This will only happen if NGOs are actively involved in the planning of the national operational programmes as agreed by Member States in the new rules governing the EU Cohesion Policy for the period 2014-2020.
• Ensuring that the European Disability Strategy is taken into account in the European Semester process to ensure dialogue between the national and European levels on the actions they are taking to fully implement the UN CRPD.
For more information, please contact Nieves Tejada, Communications Officer: firstname.lastname@example.org