There are numbers that when I read them together collide like two speeding trains. No brake. Out of control. 322,180 people over the age of 65 live in residences, according to the INE database. When people under that age are included, the figure reaches 333,920. We are talking about 11,740 people with disabilities, dependents, who live institutionalized, for whom independent living is a mere aspiration. Although it is a right, included in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ratified by Spain in 2008.
When we pay taxes even for breathing; when thousands of public officials enjoy privileges, as essential as traveling by official car (more than 30,000 vehicles make up the Spanish public vehicle fleet), while the benefits of public transport are voiced -for the public, of course-, or the bicycle, for being more sustainable, thousands of dependent older people and dependents with their whole lives ahead of them live institutionalized, against or despite what they want. For thousands of people, personal assistance is an impossible aspiration, while public officials, despite enjoying their abilities, including wiping their behinds without help, are taken to and from events, offices, and their own homes, in a vehicle with driver. I call that “personal assistance”.
With what joy those same charges get on another car, officer, as soon as the opportunity arises. Strategic plans on disability, universal accessibility, mobility… It is immoral to talk about disability in vain, while all those dependent people cannot choose how they want to live their lives, despite the fact that independent living is a right. Institutionalized life, when imposed, entails giving up one’s own home, privacy, developing a life project: one’s own.
Institutionalized life segregates the person and prevents him from developing his vital plans. Nothing new, it was already talked about for the first time in a UN declaration in 1971, and we continue messing with deinstitutionalization, while talking about disability in vain.