Elderly people with intellectual disabilities in Tyrol | MCI research project conducts situation and makes recommendations
"Providing an impulse for change for the benefit of the community in Tyrol" is the slogan of the exciting research project which students in the Department of Social Work at the MCI have been working on intensively over the past nine months together with ‘Lebenshilfe Tirol’. At the heart of the project is the research question of how people with intellectual disabilities, who are over 50 years old, want to live.
The results not only provide a comprehensive overview of the current living situation of elderly people with disabilities in Tyrol, but also contain concrete recommendations as an impulse for the future development of current living and care structures for the people concerned. Eva Fleischer, FH professor at the MCI Innsbruck, presented these future-oriented research results as well as recommendations for action to councilor Gabriele Fischer.
Students of the Social Work course at the Entrepreneurial University® conducted interviews with managing directors and assistants of the ‘Behindertenhilfe in Tirol’, which were evaluated anonymously in order to clarify these questions and create the recommendations. "These recommendations are aimed both at politicians and administrators in Tyrol as well as at the employees who are working in the field of assisting people with intellectual disabilities," explains Eva Fleischer, head of the research project at the MCI.
Georg Willeit, Managing Director of Lebenshilfe Tirol, adds: "The results of the student research project can only be a start. Both, organizations providing services, and the state as a cost carrier, need reliable facts and figures on the subject of elderly people with disabilities in order to set up disability assistance in Tyrol successful in future".
“Research efforts on this topic are extremely important in order to improve the living situation of elderly people with disabilities in Tyrol. In the next step, people with handicaps are involved”, so councilor Gabriele Fischer.
Recommendations for action
Tailoring housing offers to individual needs
The project came to the conclusion, that housing offers must be better tailored to the individual needs of their users. The state of Tyrol is encouraged to create individual housing offers that offer a mix between mobile and stationary living and ensure the financing of such an "individual service". "In order that people with handicaps can grow old in their familiar surroundings, it is necessary to connect the achievements of the handicapped-aid with the care in age. Age-related care must also be possible in the field of disability assistance," explains Yannick Tahn, a contributor to the research project.
Ensuring access to general senior citizens' services
"In the spirit of inclusion, people with disabilities should also be given better access to senior citizens' work, senior citizens' excursions, on-call aid at night within the district, and should be taken into account in urban and social planning. Policymakers are also called upon to respond to the shortage of skilled workers by making care professions more attractive and creating new training and continuing education programs. In order to increase co-determination within the providers of assistance for the disabled, the state of Tyrol should promote the training and employment of peer counselors. Peer counselors are disabled persons who advise other disabled persons", Yannick Tahn continues.
Focus on individuality
In addition, it has become clear that the organizations of the assistance for the disabled should take the individuality of the users into account in their concepts and offers. This includes offering various housing options and covering individual needs by providing multi-professional teams (from assistance, education, care, therapy, social work) and a barrier-free infrastructure. "In order for inclusion to succeed, the organizations should also continue to promote housing offers in social space, i.e., apartments and shared apartments in neighborhoods and communities," adds Isabella Salvamoser, who has conducted interviews with managing directors.
Support by assistants and society
In the everyday accompaniment, assistants can promote self-determination by motivating those affected to formulate their own wishes and to respond to their individual competencies, interests and needs. This must begin in childhood. Successful aging requires that one has learned to have choices from an early age. "Assistants should position themselves as service providers and lawyers when dealing with people with handicaps and also provide eye-to-eye conditions”, explains Umma Sandt, which led interviews with assistants. "However, the fact that humans with intellectual disabilities can live self-determinedly is not only the responsibility of professionals. Inclusion can only work if the entire society participates," adds Eva Fleischer.
Setting up the Tyrolian handicapped-aid successfully for the future
Apart from the results in terms of content, the project also makes it visible that there is currently very little data material on the situation of people with disabilities in Tyrol. "The results of the student research project can therefore only be a beginning. Both we as achievement-providing organizations as well as the state of Tyrol, need reliable numbers and facts on the topic ‘elderly people with handicaps’, in order to set up the Tyrolian handicapped aid assistance successfully in future”, describe George Willeit, managing director of ‘Lebenshilfe Tirol’. "Thereby, it is particularly important that apart from relatives also people with handicaps are listened to. Due to Covid-19, this phase of the research project had to be postponed”.