Developing Community Care

During June and July members of the Secretariat and ESN representatives visited participants of our training programme 'Managing Change' in their respective countries (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia). 'Managing Change' is an ESN programme launched in 2011 for sixteen policy makers and practitioners from the Visegrád countries to help them acquire knowledge and share experience on the transition from institutional to community care.

On 18 June, ESN travelled to Budapest in Hungary to talk to the training programme participants about current developments in the deinstitutionalisation process in their country. During discussions it emerged that, due to lack of funding and resources, the deinstitutionalisation process has slowed down in the past few years. Two key areas of concern are sensitising local communities and ensuring the security of users who enter community-based services. Furthermore, in line with the New Hungary Development Plan (NHDP), a new funding opportunity is being made available under the EU’s Social Infrastructure Operational Programme (SIOP) 2007-2013. Funding of approximately 7 million HUF (around €25,000) has been allocated across six regions of Hungary to be used to improve facilities and infrastructure, for staff training as well as for programs which support users' transition to community-based care settings. The applications submitted will be assessed by the Hungarian Deinstitutionalisation Committee (Kiváltást Koordináló Országos Testület).

Part of the same series of country visits, in early July, ESN went to Mazovia region in Poland to visit an institution for 167 users in Dom Spolecznej and meet the Vice Marshall, Krzysztof GrzegorzStrzalkowski, the director and member colleagues from the Mazovian Social Policy Centre to discuss and share impressions, in an effort to help raise awareness of the issue of deinstitutionalisation in Poland, which is not currently on the agenda at national level.

On 11 July, Jan Pfeiffer, a member of ESN’s high-level advisory committee, was in Bratislava to discuss the status of deinstitutionalisation after recent elections in Slovakia. The country has a good quality National Action Plan 2012-2015 for deinstitutionalisation, as well as a progressive Social Care Law. Currently, there is also a pilot project with €20 million available for the closure of institutions under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Jan Pfeiffer also met with Czech participants of the training group in Prague. The Czech Republic has a ‘soft’ strategy for deinstitutionalisation in the form of a National Pilot Project for the period between 2007 and 2013; however there is some uncertainty about what will happen in the post-2014 period. Currently, each county is involved in the running of the strategy to assess needs and plan services with the help of a local deinstitutionalisation team.