The better you measure, the better you help

The better you measure, the better you help
The better you measure, the better you help

Córdoba is a psychologist and her first approach to disability policies was after she graduated from college, when she joined the professional field.When thinking about disability, Córdoba uses the theoretical framework proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to define it. According to this parameter, it appears “when a person has a health condition that can be a diagnosis or a general health condition, something that causes a limitation in functions such as seeing, hearing or walking,” explained Córdoba.

However, the researcher explains that While having a diagnosis and living with a health condition is a determining factor, what constitutes disability has to do with the barriers that arise in the environment and the impossibility of finding help that enables the person to compensate for that limitation.: “One can have a diagnosis, the difference or the existence of the disability is given by the resources that one can have in the return.”

Furthermore, Córdoba insists on linking the study of disability with that of dependency from an “intersectional” perspective, since both concepts converge when “those people require help from a third person.” According to the psychologist, the process of estimating dependency —know how many there are and what they need— It is complex because the information is collected based on what the person involved or the person in charge of care says.when one has a very severe dependency or disability.

Córdoba warns about this estimation of dependency through self-declaration: “How the need to ask for help or the ability to say it is built has to do with the psychological dimensions of people“That is, if “the person, based on what he or she knows and what is happening to him or her, can really explain what he or she needs.”

Tuning the instrument

Colacce, a doctor in Economics, says that the joint interest that motivated the group to investigate had to do with the appreciation that in Uruguay policies focused on this population are not designed with the same urgency or budget as those for early childhood.There is the idea that “those who care for the elderly are not productive and the burden of caring for the elderly or their children” is associated with “supervisory care or sporadic events that do not generate such a significant restriction in the workplace,” she says.

In this line, Colacce asserts that there is another difference with the approach to dependency in childhoodsince “not all elderly or disabled people are dependent”. In this sense, she considers that “the scale for assessing dependency must be evaluated”, an instrument that allows determining whether people have a moderate, severe or high level of dependency, given that “the demarcation of the target population of the system or care policies is a different world”.Colacce adds that “there are some people who cannot be alone, others who are not dependent on others, and those who will need very specific help.”

The The heterogeneity of this population led the researchers to compare the need for specific help self-reported by the people with the level of dependency determined by the scale. And to analyze whether the help provided in the personal assistant program, for example, is adequate in all cases. Colacce says in this regard that “there are people who are severely dependent and who may need more specific help,” such as “organizing the home, with adaptations that allow them to be much more autonomous.”

Regarding measurement instruments, the Senate’s Population, Development and Inclusion Committee is currently considering a bill submitted to Parliament for the creation of a “single national scale”, which will be established by the Executive Branch through the Advisory Council of Experts on Disability Measurement Instruments. According to the director of Disability, Karen Sass, with its approval the project will allow this instrument“which has been worked on for more than three years by an inter-institutional group,” be unified into a single procedure, to efficiently assess the disabilities of Uruguayans in addition to influencing the National Registry of People with Disabilities.

*Title: “Measuring dependency in Uruguay. Context and prevalence estimation.”

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