Developing Community Care

Sixteen participants from four Visegrad countries gathered in Prague on the 12-13 March for the second session of the Managing Change training programme. The session was delivered by Julie Beadle-Brown, Jan Pfeiffer and John Halloran.

Meeting for the second time, the participants started with presentations of their strategies for deinstitutionalisation. The Czech team drew attention to the lack of interest in deinstitutionalisation among politicians, media and the general public. Combined with limited financial resources, this does not create a helpful environment for community care development. A case study from Moravia Silesia was presented to demonstrate how these obstacles can be overcome.

The Hungarian team gave a broad overview of their country’s new strategy for deinstitutionalisation. Having assessed its strengths and weaknesses, the team said they would gradually introduce tendering procedures and evaluation mechanisms.

In their presentation, the Polish participants focused on the weakness of the users’ movement and self-advocacy. They pointed to the absence of a lobby for community care and described existing institutions as ‘vestiges of the 19th social care model’. Although good examples of individual and community living can be found in Poland, this remains an exception. Poland has not yet ratified the UN CRPD and its legislation favours institutions.

Unlike their Polish counterparts, the Slovaks spoke of helpful policy environment and strategy for systemic change. They identified key challenges and came up with practical solutions to face them, looking at strengthening users’ movement, emphasising the differences in quality of life in institutional and community care and using social media more actively to sustain dissatisfaction with institutions and raise general awareness of the process of their closure.

The participants also visited an institution outside Prague and four protected community flats in the capital, meeting both users and staff, thus having an opportunity to juxtapose models and see how these services compare to what they know from their countries.

The next session of the Managing Change training programme will include a visit to the Paralympic Games in London.