European Expert Group Meeting

On 16 April the European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community Care (EEG) held an open meeting with officials from the European Commission and selected Member State representatives in Brussels. From June 2013 the European Social Network will be taking over as co-chair of the EEG alongside the European Disability Forum and UNICEF in the upcoming working year.

The European Expert Group 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 aim of the meeting was to discuss the on-going development of the EEG’s work advocating the use of EU Structural Funds for facilitating the transition from institutional to family-based and community-based care for children, persons with disabilities (including intellectual and psychosocial disabilities), persons with mental health problems, homeless persons and older people.

The meeting allowed for an update on the state of the reform process in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia and Slovakia:

  • In Hungary the EU’s Social Infrastructure Operational Programme has allocated funding to help the transition to community care for 6 institutions to ‘replace’ 900 places in institutions. A support structure is currently being put in place to support the institutions, including the provision of assistance from 107 newly-trained mentoring specialists.
  • In Poland there is currently no national strategy to support the deinstitutionalisation process; however there have been some positive developments in the development of family-based care alternatives for children currently in care. Challenges still remain in terms of long-term hospitalisation of people with mental health problems.

ESN Chief Executive John Halloran raised the issue that while local and regional authorities are able to include the transition to community care as a priority in their strategies, it remains a problem that they receive no guidance from national-level about how to do this. ESN has been supporting its member, the Mazovia region, in Poland and various stakeholders in Hungary in this process as part of the Development Community Care training programme.

“ESN wishes to support the European Expert Group in its future work promoting the transition from institutional to community-based care. The on-going negotiations in Member States on the social priorities for the next EU funding period makes this a crucial time for advocating for the development of services based in the community,” stressed ESN’s John Halloran.

ESN remains committed to supporting public authorities at local and regional level in the development of personalised services and measures promoting choice and control for service users.

Resources

EEG Guidelines & Toolkit, now available in English, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, French, German, Greek, Lithuanian and Romanian