158. Persons with disabilities must have the opportunity for personal development, inclusion and daily living on an equal basis with other citizens. All citizens must have the same opportunities for involvement and participation in the different spheres of society.
Having a good place to live, with access to necessary services, is regarded as a fundamental need and a prerequisite for participation in other spheres such as education, work, and in the community otherwise.
159. As a group, persons with disabilities are over-represented among disadvantaged people in the housing market. Integration is a goal of Norwegian welfare policy, implying a genuine possibility for everyone to live independent and active lives. A goal of the housing policy is to enable as many as possible to live independently in ordinary residential environments and to receive necessary services there, if so chosen. The municipality's duty to help provide homes for disadvantaged persons is outlined in the Health and Care Services Act and the Labour and Welfare Administration Act, the latter requiring the municipalities to help provide housing for persons who themselves are unable to look after their interests in the housing market, including specially adapted dwellings. Subsidy and loan schemes have been developed to support municipalities procuring their own dwellings for persons with disabilities, targeting both municipalities and individuals. The Norwegian State Housing Bank plays a central role in housing policy.
160. Subsidies for rental dwellings are intended to increase the number of appropriate dwellings for disadvantaged people, and is used for buying, renovating and building dwellings. When allocating subsidies to co-located housing and assisted living schemes, housing specially geared to persons with different types of disabilities, the Housing Bank emphasizes normalisation and integration. Dwellings must not have an institutional character, and the number of co-located dwellings must not be too high. Housing units should be located in ordinary environments, allowing for the principles of normalisation and integration.
161. Research shows limited self-determination when it comes to choosing housing and living arrangements for persons with disabilities. However, the group is mixed, with wide variations in the living arrangements desired. Some persons with intellectual disabilities may prefer living in communities in close contact with personnel who can offer security. For others, the same living arrangements may create an obstacle to their quality of life. Solutions tailored to individual preferences and needs should be sought. The white paper on persons with intellectual disabilities (Meld. St. 45 (2012-2013) emphasizes dialogue and efforts to ensure that this group has genuine choices with respect to living arrangements.
162. In 2014, the Government proposed a strategy for housing and support work in the future: Housing for welfare: National strategy for housing and support services (2014–2020). This is a coordinated, cross-sectoral and binding strategy outlining guidelines for housing and support services. Clarifying responsibilities, duties and expectations, it sets clear objectives for future housing and support services. The Norwegian State Housing Bank acts as coordinator for following up the strategy.
163. Pursuant to the Health and Care Services Act, the municipalities are responsible for the services provided to everyone with a need for care services, irrespective of age or diagnosis. Municipal health and care services consist of various kinds of home services, such as home nursing and personal assistance, including practical assistance. Care services are also provided in institutions, including nursing homes, and include respite measures, support contact and carer's pay. The different services are described in the Act. The individual municipality may additionally have arrangements and services such as meals on wheels and a security alarm.
164. Figures from the IPLOS Register (see Article 31) show that almost one of five persons with disabilities aged between 20 and 66 years receives municipal nursing and/or care services. The corresponding number for the general population is about 2 per cent. In recent years, the proportion of disabled persons receiving such services has increased steadily.
165. Personal assistance includes help in accomplishing the practical tasks of daily living. Assistance may be provided both inside and outside the home. Personal assistance also includes help in self-care and grooming and training in the activities of daily living. The purpose of the training is to make the individual as self-reliant as possible in their daily lives. Personal assistance also includes participation in recreational activities. The municipality has a duty to offer personal assistance as needed. In cooperation with the individual patient or user, the municipality assesses the needs of individuals for assistance and decides whether services in the form of personal assistance should be provided.
166. Pursuant to the Health and Care Services Act, the municipality must have an option of personal assistance in the form of practical assistance and training, organised as user-controlled personal assistance (UPA). UPA is an alternative way of organising practical assistance and training for persons with disabilities. The service provides people with a greater opportunity to live an active life and be as independent as possible despite a disability. With UPA, it is the user who, with assistance if necessary, organises and directs the work with the assistants. The supervisor has day-to-day responsibility for the assistants. It is a requirement that the role of supervisor is properly conducted. In 2014, the Storting adopted amendments to the Patients’ Rights Act. The amendment gives the right to UPA to persons aged under 67 with a substantial, long-term need for assistance. The right also includes respite care for parents with children with severe disabilities under the age of 18 and living at home. The establishment of this right is intended to pave the way for better everyday living for persons with an extensive need for assistance and their families. The right is independent of diagnosis, and will thus also apply to users with a variety of disabilities. The amendment entered into force on 1 January 2015.
167. The UPA arrangement is described in more detail in special circulars. The Directorate of Health is in the process of completing a new circular outlining the UPA scheme, in which it will be natural to discuss the following topics: the assistants' labour law situation, the municipality as the party obligated to assure necessary and acceptable services, UPA viewed in light of the maintenance principle laid down in the Health and Care Services Act (right to take the assistant over municipal and national boundaries); UPA in co-located housing and the issue of duty of confidentiality; and the relationship between user-control and the municipality's freedom to organise the service.