Life in an institution

An institution is any form of care with accommodation that:

• separates residents from the wider community and (or) forces them to live together;
• residents do not have enough control over their lives and the decisions that affect them;
• the interests of the institution usually take precedence over the individual needs of the residents.

Institutions separate people in need of support from the community. This means that the people who live in institutions have practically no contact with other members of a community in their daily lives. Their lives are mostly limited to an institution.

In some cases, the institutions are huge and can accommodate hundreds of people. However, size is not the only element that defines them.

Sometimes, an accommodation facility with few people can also be considered an institution. Smaller facilities are considered institutions when the institutional culture and institutional approach are maintained despite the small number of residents. This means that people’s way of life is similar to or the same as that offered by institutional care. Their lives are characterized by many rules, commandments, prohibitions, lack of independence, and objectification. Residents do not have private space and can’t make decisions about their lives – others decide who they will live with, what and when they will eat, and who their friends will be.

But not all residential accommodations are institutions. It depends on the practices that are established there.

Moving out of an institution means a massive change for every person. However, if an institutional culture accompanies residents during and after the resettlement, we cannot say that they no longer live in the institution, no matter what kind of accommodation they have.