Paul & Michelle

From Institutional Life to Home Ownership: A personal story demonstrating the power of support to enable the exercise of legal capacity

Paul Alford was nineteen going on twenty when he moved into Peamount Hospital, a large institution for people with disabilities in Newcastle, County Dublin.  When he arrived in April 1983, he never imagined that it would take him thirty-two and a half years to leave.  Paul endured abuse, exploitation and significant hardship living in the institution.  He was forced to live according to rigid routines and work in a sweatshop for very little wages.  While at Peamount, Paul dreamed of owning his own home in the community.  To realise his dream Paul had to overcome significant personal, social and financial barriers.  After a long fight, with the support of special friends and advocates, Paul moved into his own home on 11 January 2016.  Paul shares his painful story in the hope that it will help other people with disability realise they can live the lives they want in the community.  He also hopes it challenges governments to resource moving people with disability out of institutions in Ireland and other places in the world.  Paul’s story demonstrates that with appropriate support people with disability are able to exercise their right to legal capacity and live the lives they want in the community.

You can watch Paul and Michelle present here. Their presentation starts at 27:39.

About the authors

Paul Alford

My name is Paul Alford.

I am from Ireland.

My 7 word autobiography is – traveling, working, speaking-up, living independently, music & Elvis,  football.

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My name is Michelle Browning

I live in Melbourne, Australia

My 7 word autobiography is: Daughter, sister, dancer, listener, traveller, student and wife.

I am someone who enjoys asking questions and listening to answers. I am currently finishing a PhD in supported decision making which explores how people with intellectual disability make decisions with the support of their friends and family. I work as an educator and facilitator and love to dance the Argentinian tango.