Fostering inclusion in Europe being one of its key aims, the Estonian Presidency to the EU Council promoted the exchange of ideas on moving away from institutions for persons with disabilities by hosting the two-day event “Dignity + Independent Living = DI” that took place in Tallinn on the 12-13 October.
Over 40 speakers met with participants in the Estonian capital to focus on advancing discussions to accelerate the transition from institution-based care to community-based support (deinstitutionalisation, DI) in EU Member States. Discussions held at the event touched upon a number of key themes such as methods for funding DI, the importance of committed long-term political support, the need to change mindsets and reduce stigma, and the importance of each person being able to control their own lives.
Speakers also highlighted the need to focus more on moral, legal and ethical reasons when promoting deinstitutionalisation and reminded decision makers that deinstitutionalisation is not simply about making intuitions smaller, but rather about abolishing institutionalised mentalities.
The conference brought together those working for European institutions, agencies, governments, NGOs as well as academics in the field. Distinguished guests included European Parliament Member and Co-Chair of the Disability Intergroup, Helga Stevens, Estonian Minister for Social Protection Kaia Iva, Head of the Disability and Inclusion Unit at European Commission, Emmanuelle Grange, and Managing Director of the Estonian Chamber of Disabled People, Anneli Habicht, as well as many others. The event was also graced with the presence of representatives from a large array of civil society organisations.