Communities Caring for People with Disabilities Increase As The Pandemic Takes Its Toll On Families | Latest India News
Chennai: Communities for inclusive living for people with disabilities are advancing in Chennai and in several regions in Tamil Nadu.
The biggest fear for parents is who will take care of their child when they are gone. Akila Vaidhyanathan started pondering this question when her son Nishant Sriram was only 10 years old. He was diagnosed with autism and aphasia. “We have found that he cannot live independently and that he needs support. So we thought of different options and a key question was what would he do all day? ”Says Vaidhyanathan. “Institutional setups do not involve them productively. Nishant is active, he likes to eat out and enjoys all the good things in life. ”So Vaidhyanathan and her husband started an integrative housing project in cooperation with Covai Care in Coimbatore that provides assisted living communities for senior citizens. 10% of the places were intended for families with disabled children. “It’s a great age because as we get older we need help and some become single so that our children can continue to live with help in these homes during our time or after our time.”
A 50 year old woman with intellectual disabilities was recently orphaned, but her transition to life went smoothly as she was already living in this community with her elderly mother. Vaidhyanathan, 55, and her family, along with Nishant, who is now 25, will in the future be moving to a facility they helped create.
Key figures in this movement for independent and inclusive living are mostly parents like her, who founded organizations like SCAN (Special Child Assistance Network) in Chennai and CLAPS (Community Living Association of Parents) in Thiruvallur. In Tamil Nadu there is already the practice of “group houses” in which an apartment is rented or bought and adults with disabilities live together with their peers, families and carers.
This is expanding as SCAN launched its inclusive living initiative on Thursday with a private real estate developer, Akshaya Homes, who will build the project for disabled people. The adults with special needs can live in a shared apartment with their peers and carers, whereby the apartment is barrier-free. The carers would be certified by a well-known NGO working in various sectors for people with disabilities, Vidya Sagar (formerly The Spastic Society Of India).
“The idea was that parents could watch their adult children with special needs be cared for and not have to live in constant worry,” says Gopinath Ramakrishnan, co-founder and managing trustee of SCAN. “So far we only have concepts of facilities and hostels in which adults with disabilities are forced to live together. Imagine being taken to these places in your 30s and 40s because the parents are in their 70s, they are incapacitated and have no other choice. That’s not good enough. We want parents to know they are happy. We want to give adults choice, flexibility and decision-making power. “
As the movement towards interdependent and inclusive living increases, there are concerns about the transition to finance and savings. Vidya Sagar, who runs a program called Begin to Live Interdependently with Support Systems (BLISS), is completing a deed of trust for a woman in her early thirties with multiple disabilities. Her mother, a retired professor with visual impairment, is her only carer and the daughter needs full support throughout the day. Delhi-based attorney Roma Bhagat is helping the organization and her family to close the offense. “We want to create a support system in advance if the parents or primary caregivers are alive and active,” says Smitha Sadasivan, member of the project and member of the Disability Rights Alliance.