Deinstitutionalization – initiating a complex process
Persons placed in psychiatric institutions and social protection institutions should be reintegrated into the communities.
“Persons placed in psychiatric institutions and social protection institutions should be reintegrated into the communities. This is a complex process and it requires a coordinated intersectoral approach including a whole set of measures at all levels of power”, said Meho Omerović, President of the Board for Human and Minority Rights and Gender Equality, which met on 28 February 2013 in the National Parliament of Serbia. The Board meeting took the form of a Round table, including a presentation of the “Common European Guidelines on the Transition from Institutional to Community based Care”.
The National Ombudsman Mr. Saša Janković stated that a large number of persons currently residing permanently in institutions could, based on medical criteria, be reintegrated into the community, but they remain institutionalized because the local communities have no adequate support, services and social care mechanisms to provide adequate conditions for their normal living. The Minister of Health Prof. Dr. Slavica Đukić Dejanović pointed out that deinstitutionalization would require for all Health centres to be staffed with psychiatric teams, who would follow and care for the condition of persons in need of such care.
A number of civil society representatives also participated in this event, providing significant contributions to the discussion by sharing experiences from the field and real-life issues of the affected families, particularly in cases of children with severe conditions. Many families suffer because they must leave their child in an institution and lose almost all contact, knowing that the child’s progress and recovery will be severely hampered without constant love and attention which institutions simply cannot provide. But although the law makes provisions for services such as daily visits by medical and social workers to allow a few hours of respite for the parents, in practice these systems are still not functional.
Representative of the European Expert Group Ms. Ines Bulić presented the „Common European Guidelines on the Transition from Institutional to Community based Care“. These Guidelines give practical advice on how to carry out a sustainable transition from institutional care to care provided within the family and the local community, both for those persons who currently reside in institutions, and for those who are living in the local communities but often struggle without adequate support.
This Round table was organized by the Board for Human and Minority Rights and Gender Equality of the National Parliament of Serbia and the National Ombudsman, with the support of the TACSO office in Serbia.