Hungary’s Ministry of Human Resources has released an action plan one month after the Mental Disability Advocacy Centre’s (MDAC) report on abuses in the Topház Special Home for mentally disabled people. It is unclear from the plan, however, whether the facility will be closed any time soon, reports hvg.hu.
MDAC urged the government to immediately close the Göd facility after an on-site investigation discovered children and adults who had been tortured and abused, including being tied to beds and restrained with makeshift straitjackets.
The ministry initially rejected the MDAC report, arguing that the organization had illegally entered the facility and taken photographs without permission.
Pro-government media also took issue with the damning report, suggesting that the fact that MDAC received support from George Soros’ Open Society Foundation discredited their findings.
The ministry later condemned the shocking conditions in a statement, and hinted that the facility might be closed in the near future.
The action plan released today by the ministry, however, does not include a course of action to close the facility. The ministry ordered the following measures, among others, to be executed by the end of July:
- The number of inhabitants per room must be decreased from five or six to four.
- Rooms must be refitted to be more private.
- The facility must not accept more patients than it can officially house.
- A “comprehensive and independent” financial screening of the facility must be conducted.
- The facility must expand the staff including hiring special education teachers to take care of inhabitants who have autism or severe mental disability.
- The facility must immediately hire an adult GP.
- An infrastructural survey of the facility must be conducted.
- Under-age inhabitants must be separated from adult inhabitants. Under-age boys must be separated from under-age girls.
- Aggression management training and psychological consultation must be provided for workers.
- The facility must immediately stop using non-medical devices for restraining patients.
- The “intimate room” must be refitted to be more private and intimate.
- A “complaint box” must be placed in the facility.
- No new inhabitants can be accepted, to decrease the number of patients.
“The situation will not be resolved by making the facility gleaming clean, decreasing the number of inhabitants by 20 people and hiring more, better qualified workers,” commented Dominika Milanovich of the NGO Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ). She underlined that the plan does not provide for immediate evaluation of the mental and physical conditions of the inhabitants.
Milanovich concluded that the primary goal must be to close all similar facilities and provide supportive housing for people with mental disabilities, as well as to strengthen social support services.
“Everything else is just fire-fighting; today it is Topház, tomorrow another facility,” she added.
According to 2011 ministry statistics, more than 20,000 people with some kind of disability live in some 170 facilities in Hungary. An EU tender worth HUF 78 billion, published at the beginning of this year, would cover the costs of exchanging about 10,000 spaces in the facilities for smaller, more livable accommodation.
Closure of Topház in the near future is unlikely, as the facility cannot apply for the EU funds available for facilities with more than 50 inhabitants.