European Expert Group on Transition from Institutional to Community Care

On the 20 November the European Expert Group on Transition from Institutional to Community Care (EEG) presented its Guidelines and a Toolkit on the use of European Union funds for the development of community care, during a high-level meeting at the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels. 

The EEG is a gathering of nine European stakeholder organisations active in the field of social inclusion, non-discrimination and fundamental rights, joined by the European Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNICEF. The group advocates the use of Structural Funds for facilitating social inclusion for children, persons with disabilities, and older persons, and their access to quality social and health care services in the community, as an alternative to the care provided in segregating residential settings.

The first publication presented at the event is a set of Common European Guidelines for Member States for implementing and supporting a sustained transition to community-based care and aims to provide practical advice on the different phases of the process using European and international best practice examples. The term ‘common’ thus refers to the fact that the model described can be used by those involved in  care and support sector across the different themes, thereby including children, people with disabilities, people with mental health problems and older people.

The second is a Toolkit for national, regional and local public authorities explaining how they can use Structural Funds after 2014 to promote the development of community and family-based alternatives to institutional care. The primary focus of the publication is on the European Social Fund (ESF) and the European Regional and Development Fund (ERDF), but some lessons of programming and implementation may be useful for other relevant European funds as well (e.g. EARDF and IPA). As a member of the EEG, ESN has contributed to the drafting of both publications, which aim to explain the key concepts and principles behind the transition process using largely non-academic language. 

In addition to presenting the publications, the high-level event saw a panel discussion with Member State representatives from Finland, Lithuania, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and the Czech Republic who talked about how deinstitutionalisation is progressing in their countries and the challenges they are facing. Linked to this panel, in 2013 the EEG also plans to set up training sessions for national officials from across Europe on how ministries, managing authorities and civil society organisations can form partnerships in order to use European funds to support reforms which encourage the transition to community-based care and make deinstitutionalisation an investment priority in the next programming period.