User involvement for independent living and personal assistance - CIL Serbia
Accreditation of personal assistance provider training
CIL – mainstreaming of PA service and accreditation of PA provider training Serbia Mainstreaming of pilot project results to the national legislation is a very new concept in the Western Balkans.
Therefore, this innovative example by the Center for Independent Living Serbia features regional newness. In a nutshell, CIL piloted, tested, researched, analyzed, mainstreamed, standardized and accredited the personal assistance (PA) service with the relevant institutions of the national government.
CIL is an NGO that was founded in 1996 on cross-disability principle www.cilsrbija.org. Inspired by the Irish experience, CIL introduced a pilot PA project in Serbia in the year 2000. The project was funded by Irish Aid. It took 12 years from that initial personal assistance service project to the accredited service. In the process, CIL took all the steps that are normally done by the government in cooperation with the expert community prior to the introduction of a new social service:
• Designed and implemented a feasibility study for the PA service
• Designed and implemented a cost-effectiveness study for the PA service
• Designed and implemented a participatory action research on PA service
• Produced two films by service users in order to raise awareness
• Designed and successfully advocated for mainstreaming of PA service standards for Serbia
• Advocated for modernization of the law on Social Protection that now includes PA as a service option
• Designed, tested and accredited training curriculum for PA service providers
• Trained service providers and service users in order to implement the standard
• Raised awareness of local self-governments on the new social service and standards of implementation
Once the PA service was mainstreamed, i.e. included in the law as a possibility but not a mandatory option, it became eligible for public funding, mostly at the local level. However, there were no monitoring mechanisms in place to ensure integrity of the service. As a result, some contractors sold modified day care as PA services to local self governments. In order to protect service users as well as service providers, CIL went through a procedurally demanding and complex process of curriculum design and accreditation with the National Social Welfare Institute. As the accredited training provider on PA service, CIL can now support the implementation of the standard of service. Ultimately, this leads to a better quality of service. Training can be commissioned by any organization/individual. PAs and service users have easy access to quality training at all times.
This accredited service is innovative because it is designed and provided by persons with disabilities who are service users themselves, trainers, managers of the service and soft monitors of implementation of the national standard. Service users are empowered and they actively participate in maintaining the integrity of the service. The accreditation has contributed to spreading the philosophy of independent living and supporting sustainability of CIL. Through this process, CIL became a policy player. The independent living movement in the region gained a strong ally and people with disabilities in Serbia have access to a new social service that would not have been available without the initiative and persuasive commitment of CIL that was ready to embrace new roles and engage other stakeholders in new relationships.