9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS01 Sociology and Disability

2009-09-04 13:30:00 2009-09-04 15:00:00 Friday, 4 September 13:30 - 15:00 Disability, Support/Assistance/Surveillance Building II, C3.01

Personal assistance: a gap in Portuguese inclusion strategy for people with impairment

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this paper is to analyze the adequacy of the Portuguese Rehabilitation and Inclusion System (PRIS) for people with impairment (PWI) in order to guarantee full and active citizenship. Also, it intends to examine PRIS?s sustainability.

METHODS: To this end, an analysis of the national system for supporting PWI has been made. In addition, a literature review has been made concerning solutions for these people in general and, in particular, regarding personal assistance service.

RESULTS: Results prove that PRIS focuses only in health, education and employment/professional training areas, excluding economic and justice sectors. In addition, assistentialism, compensation, institutionalism, statism, centralism and associativism are the general principles of this system. This model doesn?t ponder the person with impairment as a consumer, getting far from the independent living (IL) philosophy. The last one constitutes a more constructive answer and it has been already included in the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, as well as it is being developed in European context. On the other hand, evidence reveals several social and economical advantages for sustainable innovation associated to the IL philosophy.

CONCLUSIONS: It has been verified the insufficiency of the PRIS for guaranteeing equal opportunities and full and active citizenship for PWI, especially in the case of severe impairment. The evidence shows that personal assistance and support services are the most cost-effective means to ensure that PWI and their families are able to enjoy all rights as citizens, guaranteeing they can work, receive education and training, in brief, they can pursue an active social and economic life, reducing dependency on informal or charitable forms of support. This solution also helps to create a competitive market with quality rules that turn users into customers. Finally, aiming at narrowing the gap identified, several solutions to reform the system and to create a personal assistance model are suggested.