Guaranteeing independent living and inclusion in the community, irrespective of the severity of a person’s disability
Since 2010 the Lebenshilfe Landesverband Hessen e.V., (the regional Lebenshilfe association in Hesse), has been running the “MitLeben” project, working to enable people requiring a high level of support to determine themselves how they live in their community. People with disabilities and their families, supported by specialists and access managers from nine local Lebenshilfe associations, the Lebenshilfe Landesverband Hessen e.V. and the RheinMain University of Applied Sciences, have been working on individual and regional concepts for community-oriented, outpatient living facilities for people with severe disabilities. In this project we have been working together to develop the conceptual foundations for individual self-determined living and the creation and maintenance of an individual support system for people with so-called ‘mental disabilities’, irrespective of the extent of their need for support and implemented in accordance with what is available in the region. Specific arrangements for local projects depend on the processes involved and differ in their outcomes.
As the focus on individuals is crucial in this project, the way in which the network of collaboration between those affected and professionals is developed, the kinds of living facilities that are available, the kind of accommodation that is needed and the structural requirements that have to be taken into account will only become clear as the plan is gradually being implemented.
Impetus from academic support
The RheinMain University of Applied Sciences agreed to provide academic support to the MitLeben project. In the project the research team from the Social Work Institute for the Research and Development of Practice (ISAPP) in the Applied Social Sciences Faculty at the RheinMain University under Professors Ehrhardt, Mai, Schmidt and Assistant Professor Steinmetz are evaluating the factors that promote and put up barriers to self-determined forms of living for people who need a high level of support. Additional processes involved in the project should also provide impetus for people who require a high level of support to take a more active role in their access planning.
The following results have so far been achieved by the project:
- establishment of self-determined regional living facilities or living concepts for people who require a high level of support in several locations in Hesse
- publication of a finance guide that gives people with disabilities, family members, professionals and legal carers an overview of funding opportunities for self-determined living and the legal foundations for it. The finance guide is currently out of print, but a new edition is being developed
- publication of the final report on the “Aktion Mensch” campaign, which evaluates the first three years of the project and identifies success factors as well as the barriers encountered. Preparations for high-level discussion with the Welfare Association and Federation of Voluntary Welfare Organisations in Hesse are currently underway. There have also been meetings with spokespeople for social policy from the SPD and CDU political parties in the state assembly, with the federal chamber of organisations and the federal association’s accommodation committee
- development of internal working documents by the research team and project leaders, for example on organisational development and the profile of access managers. These documents have been discussed in detail within the association
- publication of a detailed article on the concept of assistance.