Psycho-neurological or mental institutions (PNI) are created on the territory of the former USSR for the residence of people over the age of 18 who have psychoneurological as well as physical disorders. PNI continue to operate in Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and other countries. A large number (from 120 to 900 people) of people with congenital diseases and mental retardation, with cerebral palsy, Down's syndrome, and mental illnesses can live in such institutions. A certain percentage are people with disabilities (sometimes without mental retardation) who were left without parental care. PNIs should not be confused with psychiatric hospitals. People without mental illnesses in the acute phase are usually found in PNI.
Since 2009, employees and volunteers of "Helpus" visited more than a dozen PNI in Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. We are convinced that the rights of residents of these institutions are often seriously violated:
- PNI residents are isolated from society, institutions are often located in remote villages and surrounded by a fence;
- PNIs are overcrowded and people live in cramped conditions, they do not have enough space for personal life. The war in Ukraine and the evacuation only exacerbated this problem;
- in the PNI residents are not provided with normal medical care and medicines. Many boarding schools lack qualified medical personnel and rehabilitation;
- many PNIs are not adapted for the life of people with movement disorders, many residents have not been able to be outdoors for years;
- frequent cases of violence by other residents of the PNI or the staff of the institution;
- residents of the PNI have very limited free time, they practically do not have excursions outside the institution, health improvement and sanatorium treatment are almost not carried out;
- residents of PNI are often not employed and deprived of opportunities for training and development. They do not feel useful to society;
- volunteers and public organizations visit the PNI very rarely, public councils for the protection of the rights of residents of the PNI practically do not work. Residents of PNI are practically deprived of the opportunity to protect their rights in case of their violation.
In the most developed countries of the world, people with mental and physical disabilities can live in houses or apartments of supported living (or group homes), sometimes in specially adapted settlements, in which they can work, receive rehabilitation services, treatment. People with disabilities in developed countries have the opportunity to choose their place of residence, they have much more personal space, more opportunities to protect their rights.
In Ukraine, the reform of the PNI is still more talked about than done. A standard for assisted living services has emerged, but only a few such homes have been created across the country. At the same time, projects created by non-governmental organizations encounter opposition from officials who do not want to change the old system.
In 2011-2022, the "Helpus" and "Happy Child" foundations created 5 houses for children and young people with mental disabilities, and one apartment for supported living was renovated. Unfortunately, in the spring of 2022, all these houses ended up on the territory occupied during the Russian aggression.
We are currently continuing the development of the project. In our plans:
- to help in the development and expansion of Oseli Vira, Nadiya y Lyubov" in Ivano-Frankivsk oblast (it is necessary to complete the house and ensure the current expenses for food and care of the residents);
- build and buy several more houses in the Western, safer regions of Ukraine, and create supported living houses in them;
- on the basis of these pilot projects, more actively lobby for changes in Ukrainian legislation and reform of the PNI system;
- to promote the protection of the rights of residents of the PNI, to participate in the meetings of public councils at the PNI.
We will be glad for new students of the project, as well as for your advice and ideas. Write to us!
Also, your financial support is very important to us:
Useful infromation about PNI problems: