“Goodbye, bed! Goodbye, cupboard! Goodbye, bathroom! Goodbye, guys!” This was Constantin’s way of saying goodbye, as eager as he was to finally go home. For him and three other young men from the Home for Children (boys) with Mental Disabilities in Orhei, “home” means living in their own home in the community rather than an institution. These young men moved into a home that is part of the Supported Living residential service.
Supported Living in Orhei is the first service of this type in the Republic of Moldova. It was created by the Orhei Regional Council and the Department of Social Assistance and Family Protection, in partnership with Keystone Human Services International Moldova Association (Keystone Moldova), under the umbrella of the Community for All-Moldova Program. This social service is designed for adults with mild mental disabilities, who wish to increase their independence and join the community. The young men will focus on developing their independent living skills while receiving some support.
The home is furnished like a typical home in Moldova and offers the young men a safe, accessible, comfortable, family-like environment. Each young man chose whom they wanted to share their room with. The young men helped to select the furniture for their new home and also chose their clothing, shoes and other items for personal use.
For Ion, whose personal possession can be counted on two hands – two magazines, five pencils and a bag of walnuts – even being able to arrange his clothes in his own closet is exciting. “Here, in the closet, I have enough space for everything,” says Ion, pointing at the shelves and clothes hangers. “I went shopping and I chose the ones I liked myself.”
In the beginning, four support specialists will assist the young men in their daily activities. Now that they’re in their new home, the young men will be able to lead a more active lifestyle and will also enjoy living conditions equal to others in the community. As their independent living skills improve and grow, they’ll have the opportunity to seek employment.
Supported Living service operates on the basis of the Framework Regulation and Quality Standards developed by the Ministry of Labor, Social Protection and Family (MLSPF), with the support of Keystone Moldova, which was approved by the Government last year. The services provided in each home are based on the needs of the individuals living there. To move into one of these homes, individuals must receive approval from the Multidisciplinary Commission for the protection of adults in need, including those with disabilities, and the regional Social Assistance and Family Protection Department.
The Community for All-Moldova Program is implemented by Keystone Moldova in partnership with MLSPF, with the financial support of the Open Society Mental Health Initiative (OSMHI) and the Soros Foundation-Moldova. The program aims to contribute to the social inclusion of people with disabilities by ensuring their full access to social services within their respective communities and by providing qualitative technical assistance to MLSPF in developing the legal normative framework to regulate these services. To date, the program has benefited 291 people with mental disabilities, including 52 children and young people who left the institution in Orhei. The program provides several types of support, including social, educational and psychological support, counseling, medical assistance, support in maintaining positive behaviors, independent living skills, educational support in school inclusion and assistance in accessing other community services.