Open Arms

Final conference of the OPEN ARMS project held in Belgrade
EU support to people with mental disabilities

More than 160 people with mental disabilities were moved out from social care institutions after years spent in institutions, more than 200 people are prepared to move the institutions and more than 900 people used community based services. It was all made possible thanking to the activities of the project OPEN ARMSfunded by the European Union with 5 million EUR.

Activities of the OPEN ARMS project made significant steps to the process of deinstitutionalization of people with mental health problems and intellectual disabilities and create conditions for their social inclusion in society and local communities.

At the final conference held in Mikser House in Belgrade on 25 November 2015 in the presence of Ambassador Michael Davenport, Head of EU Delegation in Serbia, Aleksandar Vulin, Minister of Labor, Employment, and Social Issues and Zlatibor Loncar, Minister of Health, 19 projects implemented by social and health care.

“Users of services are people who spent most of the life in institutions and this is the way for their life becomes better and fairer. Regardless of handicap they can be productive members of society and have the right to joy and hope”, said Minister Aleksandar Vulin. He added that the project must be involved into the system and expand to whole Serbia.

“The project was a successful and all these people thanks to the project are not in hospitals. They went to their homes. We want everyone to help and we can do that” said Minister Zlatibor Loncar.

Addressing to the participants Ambassador Davenport emphasized that all who participated in the project through their commitment and efforts contributed to bring people back into the community. He added that project proofs that “the joint efforts of ministries, local self-governments, civil society organizations and health and social institutions can do a lot”.

Presentation about the project achievements were held by Dr. Monika Gabanyi, project Team leader and Dr. Jan Pfeiffer, project key expert. Dragan Jevremovic, Director of residential institution (RI) from Veliki Popovac and Mirko Jankelic, Director of RI in Curug presented experience of these pilot institutions gained through process of transformation. Tatjana Stokin Markovinovic, user of social care services from Novi Becej addressed to participants. Organisations which will continue to work on deinstitutionalization process were presented at the event by Marko Milicevic, RI from Curug.

Within activities of these projects for whose implementation the EU donated more than 2.3 million EUR, new community based services for persons with mental health problems have been developed, new houses were built and equipped for independent living where users were moved, programs for foster families were created, and to prevent further risk of institutionalization (placement in institutions), mental health centres, day care centres and home care services for these people were established. People with mental health problems were prepared for leaving the institution supported by many different experts in all institutions.

Facilities with “supported housing” were opened in Veliki Popovac, Curug, Novi Becej, Stara Moravica, Stari Lec, Jabuka, Vlasotince. Program dealing with adults in foster families is developed in Kulina and Aleksinac, daily mental care centres were opened in Sabac and Valjevo, and support was given to similar centres in Belgrade. Service “home care” was introduced in Jagodina, Cicevac, Zabari and two centres for mental health were opened in Kikinda and Vrsac.

The professionals from the social and health care institutions, the local self-governments, the non-governmental organizations jointly worked on initiation, maintenance, innovation of these services with great enthusiasm. It is necessary to introduce these services in the system and to define sustainable sources of funding and capacity expansion running in the future.
During project implementation from September 2013 until December 2015 major project achievements are:

– The Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs of the Republic of Serbia formed a Working Group for management and coordination of deinstitutionalization;

– The National Program of Deinstitutionalization was developed;

– All 11 social care institutions prepared detailed and realistic plans for transformation;

– Feasibility study was prepared and it showed that there are enough human and financial resources for the implementation of modern mental health care with respect for human rights. “The new system of protection” would be based mainly on services such as primary health care and community mental health teams. A feasibility study has also shown that the current use of resources (mainly hospitalization) is inefficient and system of care is fragmented and unable to provide the necessary continuity of care;

– Employees in social care institutions participated in numerous training sessions on the new, modern approach in social protection whose essence is the individual client-oriented approach;

– This approach improves the quality of life in the institution and enables professional preparation of users for the relocation out of the institution as soon as possible. Training programs will be officially accredited as will enable the viability of transferring knowledge throughout the process of transformation of institutions and further deinstitutionalization.

The conference was attended by representatives of numerous organizations and institutions, NGOs who implemented the projects as well as users of social and health care services who begin new life in community. The film “My new life” was presented at the conference which shows some of users who were moved from institutions.

The film is available on the OPEN ARMS project website and on EUIC YouTube channel 

Many items produced by users of social care were presented at the event.

The projects were implemented by institutions of social and health care, NGOs and local-self governments from Vrsac, Kulina, Aleksinac, Novi Becej, Vlasotince, Novi Knezevac, Jagodina, Sabac, Curug, Veliki Popovac,Valjevo, Jabuka near Pancevo, Stari Lec, Stara Moravica and Belgrade.

Since 2000, the EU has donated 144 million EUR to support social sector in Serbia.

OPEN ARMS project final conference

logo-newThe final conference of the project OPEN ARMS will be held in Belgrade, 25 November 2015 in Mixer House (46 Karadjordjeva Str. Savamala).

The event is designed as a fair of 19 successful projects implemented by institutions and organizations that were involved in the project activities with aim to improve deinstitutionalization of the persons with mental and intellectual disabilities. The project outcomes and results related to the process of deinstitutionalization of persons with mental and intellectual disabilities will be presented at the conference.

The event will be attended by H.E. Michael Davenport, Head of the EU Delegation in Serbia. It is expected that Mr. Aleksandar Vulin, Minister of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Issues and Mr. Zlatibor Loncar, Minister of Health will participate the event, numerous NGOs, organizations and users of social and health care services as well as the embassies of EU member states and other countries.

The project OPEN ARMS is funded by the European Union with aim to mprove social inclusion of persons with disabilities and mental disorders. The project is implemented in cooperation of Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veterans and Social Policy and Ministry of Health of the Republic of Serbia.

Full event Agenda download here

OPEN ARMS on Radio Television Serbia – TV Mreža

About the Project

 

The project “Enhancing the position of Residents in Residential Care Institutions for Persons with Mental Disability and Mental Illness and creation of Conditions for their Social Inclusion in the Local Community (OPEN ARMS) is funded by the European Union. The project is implemented in cooperation of Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Policy and Ministry of Health of the Republic of Serbia.

Project activities started in September 2012.

Main goal of the project is  improvement of social inclusion of persons with disabilities and mental disorders.

The project consists of three components :

1. Transformation plan for residential and psychiatric institutions and Development plan for health and social services within the community .
2. Implementation of transformation and Development plan for enhancing capacities on national and local level, improving   volume and quality of services in de-institutionalisation of persons with mental disorders.
3. Support for the program of non-returnable grants in providing social and health protection services in the community.

The project “Enhancing the position of Residents in Residential Care Institutions for Persons with Mental Disability and Mental Illness and creation of Conditions for their Social Inclusion in the Local Community” was awarded to the consortium of Hifab Bolt International ConsultingPro Mente Austria, and SSPMH.

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News

New life in Veliko Gradiste

2Vera and Nedeljko with four other tenants, all of them in their thirties and forties, after many years spent in the Residential Institution for adult and elderly “Gvozden Jovančićević” Veliki Popovac, have started an independent life. Seven months ago, they were relocated from institution to the house in Veliko Gradiste, which was renovated under the project “Get a life”, organized jointly by the Czech NGO “People in Need” and RI Veliki Popovac starting from June 2014.
Next to the house in Veliko Gradiste, two more houses were settled in Veliki Popovac and Petrovac na Mlavi so that another 20 people was deinstitutionalized.

Tenants of the “pink house” live a new life, acquire new habits and friends. In the house they get along well and share the responsibilities. The spacious house has a place for everything. The house was assigned to the RI by the family whose son was also its user. “We have cable television, wireless Internet”, says Vera Puškarić. Nedeljko is the chef. He recently won second place in “Pasuljijada”, a competition in cooking beans. “The beans must be put a lot of onions – of both kinds, smoked meat and browned flour definitely”, said Nedeljko.

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Center for Mental Health in Kikinda

6For many years, Stela Z. from Kikinda struggled with psychosis and mental health problems. Her health condition deteriorated. From Kikinda, she used to go to New Kneževac where he often stayed in the Special Psychiatric Hospital “Sveti Vracevi”. The disease progressed. Stela was losing health, friends, life.

This young woman now regularly comes to the Center for Mental Health, opened in May this year in Kikinda as an organizational unit of the Hospital in Novi Knezevac, where with the assistance of doctors and medical she staff feels much better now.
“I find it much easier now. When I found it difficult and I do not feel good, I come here to my Zoka and the doctor to speak to them. No more traveling to Novi Kneževac and it means a lot. I’ve got everything here”, says Stela, adding that people are prone to bias”. “And my mother was depressed. Nobody likes people who are ill. I have no one to drink coffee with me”, she adds.

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New life in Jabuka

4After more than two decades she has spent in the Institution “Srce u Jabuci”, Mirjana (40) has a new life now. Together with seven other users she moved out from the institution and began a new life in a new home. Staff from the institution helps them (special educator, psychologist, social worker) now, but also during the preparations for independent life after leaving the institution.

The two houses were built and equipped within the project “Increasing the capacity for independent living in the community” and financed by the European Union within the Open Arms project in the amount of € 130.000. Currently eight users are accommodated here and Mirjana is one of the tenants. The participation of the Institution in this project was financed by the Provincial Secretariat of Finance of Vojvodina in the amount of € 23.000

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Kulina – small city

8More than 300 adult people with intellectual disabilities live in Institution for Adults Placement “Kulina”. First users were based in Institution in 1953. In the last three years, the Institution is in the process of transformation.
The Institution “Kulina” implemented the project “ A way from the institution to the independent life” – Strengthening the capacities of the key actors of institution transformation and de-institutionalisation and social inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities into the local community” in cooperation with Humanitarian organisation “Child’s Heart””. The project is funded by the European Union as part of the OPEN ARMS project activities. Project was implemented from June 2014 – June 2015.

Electronic magazine of the project >>>Link for direct download<<

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New life in Stara Moravica

114 users of services in the Residential care institution “Otthon” in Stara Moravica are moved from institution into three houses which were opened on 15 September 2015. Two new houses were built and an existing building was adapted with support of the European Union through the project “Contribution to enhancing the social inclusion of persons with mental disability and mental health disorders currently placed in residential care institution “Otthon” in Stara Moravica (Open Arms StM).

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New trainings in Novi Becej and Kulina

WP_20150706_11_41_05_ProTraining on “New social services in the community – Independent living” was held from 6-8 July 2015 in the Residential care institution for persons with mental disability “Sv. Vasilije Ostroški Čudotvorac” in Novi Becej. The training was attended by employees of this institution. Participants were informed about the stages of work in the community, the types of services in the community with a focus on service supported housing and its organization, selection of beneficiaries and location and organization of work of employees in the provision of these services.

This training program will be prepared and submitted for accreditation by the relevant institutions. Training was held by members of the project team of the Residential Institution for adults and older “Gvozden Jovancicevic” from Veliki Popovac (employed in the RI and the NGO “People in Need”) – Marko Desic, social worker, Milos Antic, Alzbeta Stropnicka and Ivan Gojkovic and Ivan Karakli, teacher from RI “Srce u Jabuci” from Pancevo who had previously completed the whole cycle of education within the framework of the Open Arms project activities.

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New trainings about deinstitutionalization

logo-newTraining on Normalization for the employees of the Residential Institution “Curug” was held on 8 – 9 June 2015 in Curug. Training was presented and leaded by teachers Milana Pocuca and Armin Farkas from the RI “Otthon” in Stara Moravica, and participants were employees from RI “Curug”. Training was held with aim to disseminate new knowledge and skills to the employees necessary in the process of deinstitutionalization.
The teachers previously attended and passed the “training of trainers” that was implemented within the project framework. All six courses shall be accredited by the authorized institutions.

After the training in Curug, the new Training on Preparation and Role of Transformation Plans was held on 10 – 11 June 2015. Training was implemented in Stara Moravica and participants were employees from the Residential Institution “Otthon” Stara Moravica. Training was held by the expert team from the RI “Curug”.
Through these activities Project Open Arms is significantly contributing to the creation of conditions for deinstitutionalization of persons with mental disabilities and mental illness. Following trainings on Personal planning and Organization of New Services, planned for the mid-July, are to be held in Kulina and Novi Becej.

Preparation of plans for transformation of the residential institutions

WP_20150604_12_40_13_ProThe work on preparation and implementation of individual plans for transformation of residential institutions was continued as part of the project activities. New workshop was held in Belgrade, on 4 June, 2015 attended by the representatives of five residential institutions. The workshop was led by Dr. Jan Pfeiffer, an expert on the project.

The participants discussed about current situation of process of deinstitutionalization and main necessary changes needed to be done at national level. On the agenda of the workshop were also other topics such as: establishment of network and provision of local services in community, implementation of new financing model with expected changes in the law on social protection, cooperation with centers for social work and local self-governments, training of users for independent living in the community, and new working conditions for employees.

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New trainings held

2As part of activities of the OPEN ARMS project, new training was held on 18 – 20 May 2015 in Veliki Popovac. The training “Risk Analysis” was led by Jelica Maric, Provincial Institute for Social Protection and Aleksandar Nedic, Residential Institution for persons with mental illness in Stari Lec. The training was attended by employees from Residential Institution for adults and older “Gvozden Jovancicevic” in Veliki Popovac.

The second training “Team work in deinstitutionalization” was held on 21 – 22 May 2015 in Stari Lec led by trainers Dragoslav Randjelovic, Aleksandra Genov, Sladjana Simic and Jelena Jovanovic from Geriatric Center “Jelenac” from Aleksinac and Institution for Adults Placement “Kulina”.

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Forum of service provides for persons with disabilities held

image3The second Forum of service providers for persons with disabilities was held in Belgrade on 24 April 2015 organized by the Center for Society Orientationand Republic Institute for Social Protection with support of theEuropean Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities.

The topic of the Forum was process of deinstitutionalization in Serbia, successes and challenges of this process. Experiences were presented by representatives of institutions, organizations and service providers who are involved in this process.

Dr Monika Gabanyi, Team Leader of the OPEN ARMS project held presentation about deinstitutionalization in Serbia and the project’s experiences gained so far.

House in Veliko Gradiste opened

1The adapted house in which new life will begin for six users of the Residential Institution for adults and older “Gvozden Jovančićević” from Veliki Popovac was opened on 18 March 2015 in Veliko Gradiste. This is one of the first results of the project “Getting a life” which is as of June 2014 implemented through cooperation of the Czech NGO People in need, RI from Veliki Popovac in cooperation with the Municipality of Veliko Gradiste and the Center for Social Work of Veliko Gradiste and Golubac municipality. The project is funded by the European Union under the OPEN ARMS project.
The opening ceremony was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Labour, Veteran and Social Affairs, Embassy of the Czech Republic in Serbia, the municipality of Veliko Gradiste and the Centers for social work of Braničevo district.

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Accreditation of the training program

logo-newThe three-day workshop on the accreditation of the training program was held in the period from 4th to 6th March 2015, at the Hotel “Ždrelo” in Petrovac na Mlavi. The workshop was led by Miroslav Brkić, Vito Flaker, Dragana Stanković and Andrea Rafaelič, project experts and was attended by representatives of all social care institutions involved in the project and also modules for future training programs.

The workshop initiated work on the preparation of educational programs for accreditation in the social welfare system, or the Republic Institute for Social Protection as accreditation body.

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Two plans for transformation presented

1The two plans for the transformation of the residential institutions were presented at the workshop held in Belgrade on 26 February 2014. The first panel was attended by more than 40 representatives of the 11 residential institutions (RI) included in the OPEN ARMS project.
The workshop was opened by Dr. Jan Pfeiffer, a psychiatrist, an expert on the project. In the introductory part of the meeting, he said that deinstitutionalization process will be long and the transformation plans will be changed and adapted through years.

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New house opened in Tesica – a gate for new beginning

WP_20150213_022Process of deinstitutionalization of persons with mental disability and mental health disorders started in Aleksinac municipality and the new service “supported housing” is established for the first time. This activity is part of the project “An Open Gate for a New Beginning”.

On 13 February 2015 in village Tesica, near Aleksinac the prefabricated house was opened for four users who were relocated from the Working Unit in Tesica which is part of the Geriatric Center „Jelenac“ from Aleksinac.
The house was opened by Mr. Ramunas Janusauskas, Head of Information, Communication and Press of the Delegation of the European Union in Serbia, Mr. Aleksandar Vulin, Minister of Labour, Employment, Veteran Care and Social Issues, Republic of Serbia and Mr. Dragan Veselinovic, Director of Geriatric Centre. The ceremony was attended by Mr. Nenad Stankovic, Mayor of Aleksinac, employees of the Working unit Tesica and representatives of other institutions.

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Social Care about persons with mental disability and mental health disorders in Cicevac

3Dusica Radovanovic (58) with mental disability lives alone in a family house in Stalac, a village in the municipality of Cicevac. In the backyard lot of snow, the last day of December is very cold. Her sister takes care about her, but in the last two months Jasmina Milicevic, nurse taking care also about her. Jasmina is visiting her every day and spending with Dusica two hours.
Jasmina and other five women from the municipality of Cicevac have been trained to provide social care for people with mental disability and mental health disorders. After two decades of “waiting for the job” Jasmina says she is finally “happy because she has a job, and helping others.”
Jasmina and other five nurses taking care about 24 persons with mental disability and mental health disorders in Cicevac under the activities of the project „Development of comprehensive Independent Living Support system in Central Serbia” funded by the European Union.

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Workshop on prepar

First Information session in Belgrade

The Оpen Call for Proposals “Support for de-institutionalization and social inclusion of persons with mental disability and mental illness” with total budget of EUR 2.55 million aiming to improve social inclusion of persons with disabilities and mental disorders was presented at the first Information session held on August 1, 2013 in Media Centre in Belgrade.

Introductory speeches were given by Prof. Dr. Slavica Djukic Dejanovic, Minister of Health of Republic of Serbia, Adriano Martins, Deputy Head of Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Serbia and Brankica Jankovic, State Secretary of Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Policy.

Prof. Read more

Presentation of the Open Call for Proposals

Presentation of the Open Call for Proposals

Support for de-institutionalization and social inclusion of persons with mental disability and mental illness

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Open Call for Proposals Support for de-institutionalization and social inclusion of persons with mental disability and mental illness” in scope of activities of the Open Arms project will be presented on Information session in Belgrade, Thursday, August 1st 2013, at 12:00, Media Centre, Terazije 3/I, Big room.

Key speakers:

  • Prof. Dr. Slavica Đukić Dejanović, Minister of Health of Republic of Serbia
  • Mr. Adriano Martins,Deputy Head of Delegation

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Grant scheme consultative sessions held

More than 60 representatives from residential and psychiatric institutions, local gself-governments (LSG) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Policy, the Delegation of the European Union and other institutions from Serbia participated in the two consultation sessions held on 20 June 2013 as part of the project activities.

Meetings were held with aim to exchange lessons learned of the process in deinstitutionalization so the grant scheme experts would prepare the framework taking into consideration the needs and obstacles that actors face in the field. On the other hand, institutions, LSG and NGO will be able to Read more

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