A home in the community is the key to living

Dear Friends,

As you know, there have been significant breakthroughs during the past year in promoting community living and inclusion following Bizchut’s exposure of neglect and malpractice in the Neve Yaakov Psychiatric Institution and its closure in November 2012.  Since that time we have enjoyed good dialogue with the Health Ministry who is following our suggestion that community rehabilitation be offered to some of the residents currently residing in institutions.

Our work has reached new heights this month with a public campaign in cooperation with the Ruderman Foundation calling for the closure of institutions and development of community living options for people with all disabilities.

We hope those of you in Israel have been following the campaign “A home in the community – the key to life” which aims to create public awareness and impact upon public policy on housing for persons with disabilities.  The campaign consists of short radio adverts presented by 2 Israeli celebrities: Chef Haim Cohen and the actress Keren Mor.  When approached by Bizchut, Keren and Haim immediately agreed to be publically associated with the cause and donate their time to record the broadcasts.

A short movie produced by Bizchut is being seen both on Israeli television and through social media networks.  We also had the honor of working with a group of people with disabilities who are experts in PR and marketing (“Choshvim Be’Tzeva” -thinking in colour) who designed the logo of the campaign which you can see below and its concept.

All major media channels and Hebrew newspapers have covered the issue and personal stories presented to the public, have generated an encouraging level of public support.

Outcomes and achievements so far:

  • Findings of an international committee of experts convened by the Social Affairs Ministry in 2011 recommending that institutions be closed in favor of community-based housing were finally made public thanks to pressure by Bizchut in an article in Haaretz newspaper’s main weekend Hebrew edition.
  • A public declaration by the new Welfare Minister announced his intention of “freeing” residents of institutions so they can be integrated and live in the community.   The minister has invited Bizchut to cooperate in formulating a 5-10 year reform plan that will transition individuals from institutions to living in the community.
  • For the first time, the scope of the problem was presented through statistics and data on housing for persons with disabilities made public as part of the campaign.
  • Years of abuse in an institution for persons with physical disabilities was reported on in a Channel 2 news investigative report and concluded with the firing of the director and a commitment from the ministry not to allow further neglect and denial of rights.

The findings of the Committee of Inquiry into the Neve Yaakov scandal were published today Wednesday 10th July and validated Bizchut’s fear that government agencies were not adequately supervising abusive conditions in closed hospitalization wards within private psychiatric institutions. 

We are encouraged by the positive response to the campaign and subsequent level of public discourse.  We invite you to read the Op-Ed published by Haaertz in English and Hebrew on Sunday 7th July and join our Hebrew facebook page!