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Self-Directed Support in Finland

Author: Susan Eriksson

The First Experiment in Finland

This research report was written as part of development project in which personal budgeting and self-directed support was tested in Finnish disability services during the years 2010-2013.

During the process people with disabilities were able to choose the services they wanted to use and make decisions concerning their daily lives. Personal budgeting and person-centered life-planning were crucial in promoting opportunities for self-determination. Most of them chose alternative free-time activities or took use of the possibilities to get a part-time job. One person could move away from sheltered home to live independently with personal assistance, which was a huge life-change for that person. All of the people were happy with the process and many felt that their quality of life had improved.

The data for this research consists of recorded interviews and training sessions, which were organized during the process and when the actual process of personal budgeting began. The research explored the factors that made personal budgeting useful and whether people really had greater opportunities for self-determination.

The analyses revealed, that many disabled people are bound within the institutional practices of service systems, which make them subservient to professional power relations in their everyday lives. This institutional order shapes the life of disabled people, and critically undermines people's ability to make decisions about their own life.

Changing these institutional practices is essential to professional practice. New methods for work, like personal service planning, requires a profound change in the ideology of social work. These changes, which are necessary to improve the opportunities for self-determination of people with disabilities are essential to future professional development.

As the experiences gained in the project were mostly positive and generated enthusiasm among the workers in disability services, the system of personal budgeting will be developed as a permanent practice in those two municipalities. Other Finnish municipalities have taken steps to begin to develop their own systems.

Find out more about the project here on the FAIDD website.


The publisher is The Finnish Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (FAIDD).

Personal Budgeting in Municipal Disability Services © FAIDD 2014.

All Rights Reserved. No part of this paper may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher except for the quotation of brief passages in reviews.

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