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ENTER Conference 2023: Keynote 4 - Experiencing transformation – from institution to community

We are please to announce that the 4th Keynote for the ENTER conference 2023 will explore the experience of transformation from the institution to the community. Delivered by Nika Cigoj Kuzma, Erik Zonta and Salih Ćaušević, the presentation will analyse the involvement of users in the transformation process of Dom na Krasu, through self-experience of the deinstitutionalization process.

Nika Cigoj Kuzma works at the Faculty of Social Work, Ljubljana. Nika also works as an advocate for people's rights in mental health and she is the vice-president of the Svizci service user association. She is a deinstitutionalization activist and advocate of the rights of people with mental health difficulties. She provides peer support and leads workshops for users and employees on empowerment, advocacy and the prevention of violence against people with disabilities.

Erik Zonta is an expert by experience. As an advocate of the rights of people with mental health difficulties, he participated in the seminar on deinstitutionalization in the European Parliament, as part of the Voices for Justice project.

Salih Ćaušević is the president of the Council of Users in the Dom na Krasu institution and the service user representative on the Institution Council.

Abstract: Experiencing transformation – from institution to community

The key protagonists of deinstitutionalization should be people who live in institutions and who need support in the community. The importance of inclusion of people with disabilities in the planning and implementation of the deinstitutionalization process is emphasized by the UN Guidelines for deinstitutionalization, including in emergency situations (2022), the Common European Guidelines for the transition from institutional to community care (2012), the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (2006) and others.

Importance of inclusion is emphasized by various user organizations, as well as some experts, however, the inclusion of people with disabilities often ends up in tokenism. Decision makers, researchers and experts often ignore user experiences and their own interpretations of these experiences. It is necessary to establish the conditions to make inclusion possible, and at the same time develop a way to place the user's knowledge and experience, including their interpretation of these experiences, at the center of the development of a new system of support in the community.

In the process of the transformation of the Dom na Karsu institution, various changes should take place, to ensure the inclusion of the people who live in the institution in the decision-making processes regarding the course of the institution's transformation, decision-making about the services that should be designed together, and decision-making about our own lives. In various ways, through assemblies and personal planning, establishment of working groups, meetings of the residents' council, and above all through peer support, the foundations for such inclusion should be established during the project.

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