Managing change from institutional to community care

The Joint World Conference on Social Work and Social Development took place on 15 July in Stockholm (Sweden) under the theme ‘Action and Impact’. The aim of the conference was to focus attention on aligning the local, national, regional and global social practice environments to strengthen and reinforce the impact of social work.

ESN Chief Executive, John Halloran, participated in the symposium “The Insecurity of European Social Security”, where he gave a presentation on “Managing transition from institutional to community care". He talked about the ‘hidden population’ who lives in large-scale institutions throughout Europe. While an institutional setting may provide physical security (including food and shelter), it also fosters dependency, over-protection and exclusion of service users and cannot offer the sense of wellbeing that stems from being included in society.

“In the session we are talking about the insecurity of European social security. Residents of large institutions have perhaps more security than is good for them and actually need a little more of the insecurity that goes with independent living in the community.”

At the conference Mr Halloran also presented ESN’s report on Developing Community Care, which makes the case for community care, outlines the first steps in deinstitutionalisation and identifies key elements for the development of community-based alternatives. Linking back to the conference theme, he concluded that by highlighting that social work is important in that it promotes social change, problem-solving in human relationships, as well as the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance well-being. In solidarity with those who are disadvantaged, the profession strives to alleviate poverty and to liberate vulnerable and oppressed people in order to promote social inclusion across all of Europe and the world.

Watch presentations from the conference here.