People and places: transformations of communities’ welfare in the process of deinstitutionalization of care services

The research project, “People and places: transformations of communities’ welfare in the process of deinstitutionalization of care services” (2020- 2021) is funded by the Lithuanian Research Council. It focuses on an important, yet often neglected, part of the process of deinstitutionalization. Reform of the residential care system is welcomed by human rights advocates, national and international NGOs, but faces adverse public discourse: local communities object to the relocation of persons with disabilities into their neighborhoods. To better understand this phenomenon and to suggest ways to resolve it, we investigate the course and challenges of the deinstitutionalization process of adult persons with disabilities from the perspective of community welfare. By using methodological principles of ecological systems theory and P. Bourdieu theory, the changing welfare perspectives for all community members are analyzed: new opportunities to start meaningful social relationships, to access quality services, etc.

The project aims to analyze how the understanding of community welfare and practices of its development are being transformed in the process of deinstitutionalization and development of community services. Quantitative and qualitative research methods are used to reveal the perspectives of persons with disabilities, their carers, service providers, and community members. Media discourse is also analyzed. In addition to traditional academic dissemination channels, the recommendations for the Ministry of Social Security and Labour on how to integrate the community welfare perspective into the process of the reform will be developed. Taking into account similar problems of deinstitutionalization in other post-socialist countries, active international cooperation is foreseen.

The principles of the participatory approach are followed by involving persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities in the dissemination of the results in the media, among the professionals, and in the scientific community.