Transition from institutional to community-based services (Deinstitutionalisation)

Across the European Union, hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities, mental health problems, older people or abandoned and vulnerable children live in large segregated residential institutions. Such institutions were originally created to provide care, food and shelter, but by now evidence has shown that they cannot ensure person-centred services and appropriate support needed to bring about full inclusion. The physical separation from communities and families severely limits the capacity and preparedness of those living in or growing up in institutions to participate fully in their community and wider society.

The shared European values of human dignity, equality and the respect for human rights should guide us as our societies develop structures of social care and support fit for the 21st century. The implementation of adequate reforms of care systems needs to take place in Member States. Following the provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CPRD), the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the European Convention on Human Rights, Member States and the European Union should implement measures reinforcing the transition from institutional to community-based services. Among the key articles of the UN CPRD relevant for deinstitutionalisation, article 19 lays down the right to an independent living.

The European Disability strategy 2010-2020 provides the framework for empowering people with disability to fully participate in society and ensure they can enjoy their fundamental rights. The strategy reiterates the EU committed to promote the participation of disabled people in leisure activities, employment, education, health, social services and to achieve the transition from institutional to community based care.

The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) can support a wide range of measures in line with the requirement of the poverty reduction policy framework (thematic objective 9) prevent institutionalisation and support the reforms for the transition. Building or renovating long-stay residential institutions is excluded from the ESIF support, regardless of their size. Measures proposed are part of a strategic vision on how the transition from institutional to community based care will be implemented, in line with the criteria under the proposed ex-ante conditionality for active inclusion.