Conference on social services in Slovakia

Article, 16.01.2015

In mid-November 2014 a conference on "social services for people with disabilities" took place in eastern Slovakia. Switzerland, as part of its enlargement contribution, provides funding to Slovakia of more than CHF 3 million to support three large and 13 small projects for children, young people and adults with disabilities. The projects presented were a basis for discussions during the conference.

A young disabled man in a social services facility in Stará L'ubovňa.
In the municipality of Stará L'ubovňa in eastern Slovakia, Switzerland is supporting improvements in social services for children and teenagers with disabilities and their families. DEZA/SECO

The conference "Inter Pares – Best practices in providing social services to disabled people" took place from 12–13 November 2014 in the eastern Slovakian city of Košice. The Swiss ambassador in Slovakia, Alexander Wittwer, and the director of the Slovakian Bilateral Financial Instruments Office, Ján Krak, opened the conference. Some 120 medical professionals, physiotherapists and ergotherapists specialising in the care of people with physical and mental disabilities took part in the two-day conference. Representatives of municipalities and regions, as well as journalists from television, radio and the press also attended. The main events of the conference were an exchange of experiences gathered from three of the projects partially funded by Switzerland in the area of social services, and a discussion of best practices. The discussions included experiences with outpatient therapy and also memory training methods and their effect on the daily lives of people with disabilities. Other important points were the partnership between family members and professional carers, and supporting people with disabilities in the workplace.

The conference participants, including people in wheelchairs.
People with disabilities also took part in the conference and related their experiences. © SDC/SECO

Three projects supported by Switzerland:

Modern and humane social services

The region of Košice has 14 institutions in total for 1,838 children and adults with disabilities. The "Please come and join us…" project is ensuring the renovation and modernisation of the "Domco" centre and the training of 70 social workers. It promotes the inclusion of children and adults with disabilities in Slovakian society. The project is intended to help move care for people with disabilities away from institutions and put it on a more human level by breaking down organisational structures into smaller units, reducing the number of patients per room, building more sanitary facilities and introducing a varied choice of modern therapies.

Switzerland is helping fund the project with a contribution of CHF 1,342,000. Most of the funding is being spent on construction.

Supporting the inclusion of children and young people with disabilities

"Comprehensive social services for children and young people in Stará L'ubovňa" is a project to offer children and young people with disabilities and their parents counselling services, modern therapies and means of transport. Young people with disabilities will also receive better coaching and advice to enable them to enter employment. Finally, information and lobbying activities will help improve acceptance of children and young people with disabilities among the general public and in the workplace. Training and motivating social workers is also vital. Surveys among staff have shown that day-to-day stress can negatively affect motivation and emphasised the need for life-long learning.

Switzerland is helping to fund the project with a contribution of CHF 1,110,000 CHF. It is being run by the NGO "Greek-Catholic Charity".

High-quality complex social services for children with disabilities

In the Košice region, the Slovak Red Cross is working closely with the local authorities to implement the ROAD project for disabled children. The project is increasing the care centre's capacity by 30% and improving its infrastructure by creating new therapy and patient rooms, as well as offices and a new kitchen. Specialists are being trained in the areas of psychology and neurology, and care staff are also receiving continuing training. Furthermore, the families of the disabled children receive comprehensive advice and support through the project.

Switzerland is helping to fund the project with a contribution of CHF 949,000. The Swiss foundation for young disabled people, Bärenmoos, is also contributing valuable experience to the project.

A women looking at a notebook with a disabled girl.
ROAD is one of three large Swiss-funded projects in Slovakia in the area of social services. © SDC/SECO