Vida Independiente Chile

Vida Independiente Chile

The Independent Living Chile Center came about as the result of a fellowship granted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to Carlos Kaiser Mansilla for the “Leaders of Persons with Disabilities” course in 2003.

It was at this course that he got to know the social and rehabilitation policies of Japan.

As part of the course program, he visited Independent Living Centers in Tokyo and in Naha (Okinawa).

The study program enabled the exchange of know-how with participants from other countries, with special merit granted to the contact made with Mr. Ignacio González Saravia of Independent Living Mexico.

These experiences and know-how gained after years of community work in the field of disability spearheaded the development of Independent Living in an ongoing and systematic manner in Chile (there were only scattered and sporadical initiatives at that time). It was in keeping with this objective that we created Independent Living Chile, an entity whose mission is to coordinate and manage programs, projects and initiatives aiming to facilitate persons with physical disabilities with mobility problems towards social inclusion.

2. Project rationale.

a) Scope of the problem.

In Chile, persons with disabilities make up 12. 9% of the country’s population.

In order to be fully included into society, PWDs must learn to become independent domestically (eat, bathe, dress or go to the bathroom without the need for someone else in the house) and in mobility (overcome architectural barriers).

Not all PWDs have access to rehabilitation preparing them to fully enjoy an independent life. Most rehabilitation centers only attend minors. These alternatives aim more towards rehabilitation from a medical point of view, whereas Independent Living also approaches social-ecological aspects (inclusion).

A non-independent PWD will need a family member to assist the same. Ninety-five percent of the persons that take care of or assist a PWD are women, 65% of these are also heads of household, which provides evidence of a gender problem.

b) Proposed solution.

Independent Living is a way of facing disability which emphasizes the PWD’s responsibility as the protagonist of his or her life.

In order to achieve the same the PWD must be able to:

  1. Make his or her own decisions and be responsible for the same.
  2. Carry out routine activities alone.
  3. Overcome architectural barriers.
  4. Socialize
  5. Contribute to his or her community

c) Beneficiaries.

Project beneficiaries chart

Direct beneficiaries Persons with physical disabilities, we plan to be able to attend 20 to 30 per month, all year long. Persons with disabilities will benefit because: the Independent Living Center will facilitate the social inclusion of PWDs by providing them with tools to begin a fuller life, increase their autonomy, improve their self-esteem and to stop being an object of assistance to become a subject of rights (contribution to the community).
Indirect beneficiaries 1 The PWD’s family (considering an average of 4 members) are 3 indirect beneficiaries per Center beneficiary, 1,008 persons per year. The family surroundings of PWDs will benefit because: when there is a PWD in a household who is not independent, one of the members of the family (generally the mother), must leave his or her work or perform personal activities to care for a PWD. The ILC will benefit the family because its members will enjoy a better quality of life (more work, probably better incomes, less emotional wear).
Indirect beneficiaries 2 The community. The Independent Living Center will be open to active participation from the entire community and will open its doors to training, culture and recreational activities.
Indirect beneficiaries 3 The Chilean State. Active PWDs will free up clinics, improve employment opportunities for PWDs (less pensions). IL will empower the social mobility of PWDs and their families.
Indirect beneficiaries 4 All of Chilean society.

3. Project objectives.

a) General objective.

  • Create a National Independent Living Center

b) Specific objectives.

  • Train beneficiaries to develop abilities and skills to enable the same to achieve autonomy and independence in their daily lives.
  • Facilitate the social inclusion of persons with physical disabilities who have mobility difficulties.

4. Working philosophy.

a) Role of the beneficiary.

Independent Living Chile works in line with the following principles:

1. Independent living = Community living:

As human beings, we are gregarious by nature. There is no possible rehabilitation or habilitation if the PWD does not actively participate in society. Independent Living suggests a social participation model based on the community. This participation requires a constant, active and responsible attitude from PWDs, their families and the community.

2. The PWD as a subject of rights:

PWDs will train physically, mentally and psychologically not only in order to exercise his or her rights, but also to fulfill their duties.

3. Sustainability:

The Independent Living Center must be self-sustaining and persistent.

In keeping with these principles we detail the roles of:

  • Beneficiaries.
  • The family.
  • The ILC (Independent Living Center).
  • The community.
Role of the Beneficiary

The Beneficiary is the first social inclusion agent and is the person responsible for developing abilities that enable the same to enjoy an independent life. He or she must make decisions and take responsibility for the same, be prepared to do and exercise his or her duties and rights.

Role of the Family

The family must be the facilitating agent of the Beneficiary’s processes, must respect his or her independence and actively participate in Independent Living processes and training of the PWD.

Role of the ILC

The ILC is a facilitator of processes which will enable the Beneficiary and his or her family to achieve and enjoy an independent life.

Role of the Community

The community plays a decisive role by becoming involved in processes and enjoying the Beneficiary’s achievements (an independent person contributes to his or her community)

Full inclusion of the PWD is impossible without the active participation of the community.

5. Project design.

a) Schematic design of the attention system.

b) Activities.

  1. Routine activities: participants will be trained to learn for themselves how to perform the following activities without assistance: dressing, bathing, moving from bed into a wheelchair or a prosthesis and vice versa, cooking, cleaning bedrooms etc…
  2. Wheelchair control: training participants to learn the necessary techniques in order to:
    • Move around in any terrain.
    • Get on and off sidewalks.
    • Negotiate obstacles such as holes and bumps.
    • Go up and down stairs.

  3. Control of lower limb prostheses: training participants how to learn the necessary techniques to:
    • Move around in any terrain.
    • Get on and off sidewalks.
    • Negotiate obstacles such as holes and bumps.
    • Go up and down stairs.

  4. Physical conditioning: This discipline aims to get beneficiaries to optimize the employment of useful muscles in order to perform any routine activity. Undamaged muscle groups will be developed by means of special exercises, enabling a visible improvement in the beneficiary’s physical fitness.
  5. Self Esteem and Personal Development: Beneficiary personal development and self esteem will be boosted by means of workshops, peer counselors and psychological support.
  6. Workshops: Cultural, sports, personal development, labor and recreational workshops will be held. These will be open to the entire community.
  7. Community integration activities: the objective is to work with the community, creating ties and benefiting everyone. In house and external activities will be held (organized by other public and/or private entities).

c) Schematic networking design.

The Independent Living Center is designed for networking, avoiding activity overlap and optimizing funds. Agreements will be signed with public and private institutions in order to meet this objective.

Participation will be requested from Ministry of Health professionals. IL Chile will train these professionals to use Independent Living techniques.

International network.

The Independent Living Center will sign cooperation agreements in order to take maximum advantage of programs already existing. As the result of the JICA scholarship program (2003 leadership course) Independent Living Chile makes up part of an international network. One of the international operation’s milestones is the reciprocal cooperation agreement signed with Independent Living Mexico.

d) Independent Living Center (ILC) requirement charts.

Independent Living Center infrastructure requirements chart

Rooms or Modules Quantity
Conference room 1
Administrative offices 2
Accommodations wing (*) 1
Multi-purpose obstacle negotiation field 1
Bedroom modules 2
Bathroom modules 2
Kitchen modules 2
Computer room 1

ILC Human Resources requirements chart

Position Job description
IL Center Director In charge of Independent Living Center administration, program coordination, establishment of agreements and alliances, and fund collection.
IL Center Secretary Secretary of the Center.
Domestic Abilities Training Supervisor Occupational therapist or physical therapist, in charge of training beneficiaries to use domestic skills and abilities.
Overcoming Architectural Barriers Abilities Training Supervisor Occupational therapist or physical therapist, in charge of training beneficiaries to use skills and abilities to overcome architectural barriers.
Peer Counselors Program Supervisor Psychologist with some disability, in charge of educating and coordinating a group of peer counselors.
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