The Swedish National Project
Background and aim of project
Services to persons with an intellectual disability have been restructured in Sweden. Residential institutions no longer are recognized as a service. Instead community based services have been developed to meet the needs of all persons, irrespective of degree of need for support. A part of this restructuring is also that the regional organization, the county, no longer has got a responsibility for services. Instead local municipalities, with their competence to handle social issues for the public in community, have taken over responsibility for disability support.
Research show (Kent Ericsson, 2002: From institutional life to community participation) that this transition has had positive consequences for persons and their families. At the same time this research also show a need for a continuation of development of this support, with the municipalities as the new platform. What one need to strive for is to find housing, schooling and work in the community where the person belongs, together with commercial services, recreation and culture and services for health and social well-being. If this life is not what is being offered, persons with a disability can be seen as discriminated against.
The frame of reference for this analysis sees the ongoing change of support in Sweden as a shift between two traditions of support. An institutional tradition is being dissolved while a community tradition is being developed. The logic found in the community tradition stems from a socio-political idea from 1946, which has gradually been implemented through the four Acts of Parliament from 1954 to 1993. The key to this idea is to see the person with a disability as a citizen with a right to be part of ordinary community and to live the life which is lived by the general public. The right for a citizen to have control over his life is the key to a realization of this community tradition. This is also the guarantee that discrimination which is experienced by the person is being identified. This idea is today not only a theoretical idea. It is a reality that persons with a disability, especially if they have grown up in their family home, expect to be able to control their lives and the support which is being offered.
The aim of the project in the municipality of Lidingö is to introduce a way to increase the involvement of the person himself, and his representative, in the process leading up to his support. The method, seasonal meetings, will be used for this. This method creates a forum for the person and his representative, together with staff from the service, to sit down to plan the activities of the coming season. As this meeting is based on a citizen perspective, it is most important that there is an equality in the relationship which is at hand in this situation. As an example, in the spring, the summer is planned and in the summer, the autumn planning takes place. The planning is summed up in an agreement signed by both parties. If agreement cannot be reached, negotiations, as is traditional in other democratic fora, takes place. At the same time as planning takes place a follow-up is being carried out of what was realized in the previous agreement. This follow-up becomes the basis for the analysis of quality of life which is being made at the end of each year. Experiences in the places where this method has been used show very positive effects.
The plan for the Swedish national project
The Swedish national project will start September 2002 and go on for 2 years. It begins by introducing the method of seasonal meetings and to prepare the partners, persons (and their representatives) and staff for this work. A suitable number of persons are invited to take part. During year 2003 this way of planning of support starts. The intention is of course that this will go on even after the project period. The project is being coordinated by regular project meetings. In these all partners will participate. The Swedish national project will also participate in the meetings of the European project Steps. The project is documented and analyzed in 2004 to contribute to the European project Steps.
Activities during the project period
Year 2002, the second half
2003, the whole year
2004, the first half
During the course of the project regular project meetings takes place in the Swedish national project. Participation also takes place in the European project meetings.
Organization of the project
The project is run and administered by the relevant body of Lidingö municipality. Project director Kent Ericsson of Uppsala University is planning and evaluating the project. Consultant psychologist Patricia Ericsson of Skinfaxe Institute is the expert on the method to be used.
EUR 20.000 is allocated to the project, EUR 10.000 for each of the 2 years. This does not cover the real cost of the project. Therefore an agreement is made which means that necessary work will be carried out by the three parties even if it is not covered in the budget.