Towards Community Care

Exploring the challenges directors of social services are faced with when managing transitions from institutional to community care, identifying the complex and diverse nature of such a process and emphasising the role of local authorities in strengthening community-based services – these were the key points of the seminar ‘Towards Community Care’ held in Warsaw 8-9 May.

The seminar began with three visits to different local services: a large psychiatric hospital, a day care centre for people with intellectual disabilities and a training centre for foster parents and managers of children’s homes.

On day 2, after the opening address by the Deputy Minister for Social Affairs and Labour, Mrs Chlon Dominczak and a background-setting introduction (Julie Beadle-Brown, Kent University) two series of presentations followed.

The first plenary session addressed questions of where to start (Miran Kerin, Slovenia), how to involve the local community (Lorenzo Rampazzo, Italy) and what role social directors should play (Lars-Göran Jansson, Sweden) in the process of deinstitutionalisation.

The second set of presentations outlined the necessary elements for community care: personalisation (John Dixon, UK), coordination of services (Dieter Kulke, Germany) and inspection of quality (Halina Lipke, Poland).

The closing panel debate with participation of the European Commission, national government and civil society representatives, underlined the need for a coordinated approach to the deinstitutionalisation and development of community-based services.

Delegates’ reflections on the seminar:

Lorenzo Rampazzo, Veneto Region, Italy: "Institutions make mental health or pyschiatric problems chronic rather than focusing on rehabilitation."

AgnieszkaPierzchalska, Poland: "I can see now that whereas it is relatively easy to close down the institutions, the re-building of social cohesion is a difficult and long-term process that requires the cooperation of many stakeholders."

Julie Beadle-Brown, Tizard Centre, Kent University: "Directors in local authorities have an important role: they can innovate – and that can lead into national legislation."

John Henderson, Mental Health Europe: "I want to ban the word ‘deinstitutionalisation’, it has no vision, no direction. Let’s talk about independent living in the community instead."