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Decree Law No. 129/2017

Publication: Republic Diary No. 194/2017, Series I of 2017-10-09
  • Issuer: Work, Solidarity and Social Security
  • Diploma Type: Decree Law
  • Number: 129/2017
  • Pages: 5608 - 5618

Summary in plain english

What is it?

This decree-law creates the Independent Living Support Model (MAVI) program, which provides personal assistance for people with disabilities to help them carry out activities they cannot do alone. The program is developed through pilot projects for a period of three years — 2017/2020 — and is funded within the framework of Portugal 2020.

It also establishes the rules:

  • for providing personal assistance
  • that define who can receive personal assistance
  • for the setup and operation of Independent Living Support Centres (CAVI)
  • for technical and financial support given to personal assistance pilot projects.

Personal assistance is a support service for people with disabilities that helps them carry out activities they cannot do alone, according to their needs, interests and preferences.

CAVIs are the entities that will implement the personal assistance projects.

What will change?

There is now an Independent Living Support Model (MAVI), which provides people with disabilities with a personal assistance service through Independent Living Support Centres (CAVIs).

Personal assistance is support customized for each person

Each person with a disability must receive adequate support for their needs that considers what they want for their life. For this reason, personal assistance follows a personalized plan. This plan is defined by the person with disabilities in collaboration with the CAVI and it identifies:

  • the specific assistance needs of that person
  • how support activities are carried out
  • how the assistance is monitored and evaluated.

Personal assistance may include, but is not limited to, support in hygiene and personal care, health,nutrition, travel, higher education,vocational training, culture,sports, job search, participation in society, and citizenship.

Each personalized plan provides a number of hours of weekly support. Each person can receive up to 40 hours of support per week. Exceptionally, personalized plans can grant more hours of support — up to 24 hours a day. However, each CAVI can only provide more than 40 hours a week of support to up to 30% of its clients.

Who can receive personal assistance

To receive this assistance people must be 16 years or older and meet one of the following conditions:

  • have a Multipurpose Medical Certificate or an Armed Forces Disability Card, and a disability of 60% or more
  • have intellectual disability, mental illness or autistic spectrum disorder, regardless of the degree of disability.

If the person is studying under compulsory education, they can only receive personal assistance outside of school activities.

The person concerned, or their legal representative, must make the request for personal assistance.

Rights and duties of those receiving personal assistance

In addition to the respect for their dignity, will, comfort, well-being and security, those who receive personal assistance have specific rights, which include:

  • having access to their individual file and guarantee of the confidentiality of that information
  • drawing up their personalized assistance plans with the assistance of the CAVI and amend it when they wish to do so
  • taking part in the process of choosing a personal assistant, or directly suggesting a personal assistant
  • having personal assistance terminated if there is a breach of trust with the personal assistant.

In addition to showing respect to the personal assistant, it is the duty of the person receiving assistance to collaborate with the assistant and to evaluate the assistance. Personal assistance may not be used for purposes other than those defined in the personalized plan.

Rights and duties of personal assistants

In addition to respect for their dignity and safety, personal assistants have specific rights, which include:

  • the confidentiality of the information in their individual file
  • attending specific training to perform their duties
  • accompanying the person receiving assistance when they visit any public or private entities.

In addition to respecting and ensuring others show respect for the dignity, will, comfort, well-being and safety of those receiving assistance, personal assistants have specific duties, which include:

  • performing their duties with diligence, punctuality, commitment and flexibility, in order to contribute to the autonomy of the person receiving assistance
  • respecting the privacy of the person receiving assistance and the people with whom they live.
Those receiving personal assistance cannot claim certain other forms of support

People receiving this assistance may not receive other support or subsidies for the same activities. For example, they may not receive support from occupational activity centres, residential homes, foster care or home support for the same type of assistance.

If personal assistance includes support in hygiene, personal care, health, and food, those receiving this assistance cannot receive third-person assistance allowances or dependency supplements.

Who can be a personal assistant?

Any person who is at least 18 years of age and who completed compulsory education can apply to be a personal assistant. When choosing personal assistants, the CAVI will assess whether the candidate has the skills profile and an appropriate emotional balance to perform the duties.

Personal assistants cannot have had any of the following family relationships with the person receiving assistance:

  • spouse or registered partner
  • parents, stepparents, or parents-in-law
  • children, stepchildren, or children-in-law
  • grandparents or spouse’s grandparents
  • grandchildren or spouse’s grandchildren
  • siblings or siblings-in-law
  • aunts/uncles or spouse’s aunts/uncles
  • nieces/nephews or spouse's nieces/nephews
  • great aunts/great uncles or spouse’s great aunts/great uncles
  • great nieces/great nephews or spouse’s great nieces/great nephews
  • first cousins.

According to the specific needs of each disabled person, the CAVI may take into account the fact that the candidate has:

  • physical strength
  • driving license
  • computer skills, Portuguese sign language skills, or guidance and mobility skills (to help blind people move around, for example).

If the person receiving assistance directly nominates a personal assistant, that assistant must be at least 18 years of age, have completed compulsory education, no family ties with that person, and specific training.

Being a personal assistant requires training

Those who are selected will attend an initial training of 50 hours. The National Institute for Rehabilitation defines the contents of this training and creates a register of trainers whom the CAVIs can use.

CAVIs hires personal assistants from the candidates who have completed this training.

Once they have been hired, personal assistants must do further 25 hours of training while they carry out their duties. Contents and organization of this training are defined by the CAVIs according to the identified specific needs.

The relationship of trust with the person receiving the assistance is fundamental

Personal assistants have a commission basis work contract. It is a temporary employment contract that requires a special relationship of trust with the hired person. A CAVI may terminate the contract with a personal assistant if the person receiving the assistance considers that this trust has been breached.

Any behaviour that represents a lack of respect for the physical and mental integrity, safety or privacy of the person with disabilities or the people with whom they live is considered a breach of trust.

CAVIs manage personal assistance and submits projects to Portugal 2020

Non-governmental organizations for people with disabilities (ONGPD) have the status of private social solidarity institution (IPSS).

They must perform all tasks necessary to provide personal assistance, including:

  • choosing candidates, training assistants, and monitoring personalized plans
  • organizing individual processes that include, among other things, personalized plans and evaluation by those receiving assistance
  • organize events to raise awareness and share experiences among people receiving assistance
  • writing internal regulation that includes, among others, rules of operation, team identification, schedule, and provided activities.

They should also prepare and apply for pilot projects to be financed by the Portugal 2020 Operational Programs. If these applications are approved, they must comply with all obligations of these funding programs.

The funding received by the CAVIs is intended to cover the costs of their operation, including salary and allowances, transportation, communications, and training.

Who makes up the CAVI teams

A CAVI team is made up of technicians with higher education, preferably in the areas of psychology, sociology, management or administration, social service or rehabilitation. Whenever possible, it should include people with disabilities.

The National Institute for Rehabilitation (INR) recognizes and monitors the CAVIs

The INR recognizes the CAVIs, which means that it approves their creation. Entities that wish to be recognized as CAVIs must submit a request within 60 days after this decree-law is published.

To be recognized, a CAVI must give personal assistance to at least 10 people and a maximum of 50 people. In exceptional situations, a CAVI may request permission from the INR to provide personal assistance to more than 50 people. After receiving a request to be recognized, the INR has 15 days to communicate its decision to the entity that submitted the request.

It is also the INR that monitors the activity of the CAVIs, to ensure that they comply with the operating regulation. If a CAVI does not comply with these regulations, the INR can suspend or end the recognition. In such cases, a CAVI can no longer receive funding.

The INR will evaluate pilot projects of personal assistance

The INR makes the mid-term (halfway through) and final assessments. To this end, it will take into account the contribution of people receiving assistance and representative organizations in the ​​disability sector.

The evaluation will allow a review and update of this decree-law after three years of it coming into effect.

What are its benefits?

This is a pioneering program in Portugal and represents an important step towards independent life for people with disabilities, creating conditions for them to make choices about their own lives.

When does it come into effect?

This decree-law will come into effect the day after being published.

Original Version


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Legislative consolidation integrates the various amendments and rectifications made into an original legal diploma in order to make its consultation more accessible to the citizen.