Eptisa awarded with another EU funded project in Republic of North Macedonia: „Supporting community-based social services and de-institutionalization“. Project started on 2nd of May 2019, with implementation period of 30 months.

In line with the recently adopted Strategy for Deinstitutionalization 2018-2027,the implementation of the 4 Components outlined below, will start and lead the process of sustainable deinstitutionalization, by establishing community based social services across the country, improving their availability and facilitate sustainable living in the wider community and independent living,

As noted in the National Deinstitutionalization Strategy 2018-2027, current legal provisions for deinstitutionalization are isolated within the legislation for social care provisions, this has led to weak intersection of the regulations with regard to the sectors of education, employment, healthcare, housing etc. The coherence of the legal framework for the development, provision and expansion of community based social services will therefore need to be supported by changes in the legislation in all these areas, though the adoption of a consistent set of bylaws, procedures and rules at both national and local self-government level. All of these activities are fully covered in Component 1.

Relevant stakeholders at national level should have a proactive approach to “winning over” and persuading the institutional structures – at both local and national levels – to actively contribute towards deinstitutionalization. Ministry of Labor and social policy should lead the process with intensive inter-ministerial cooperation, consultation and coordination and should ensure the implementation of the changes. It should also aim to educate experts who are not directly involved in the process, but who can play an important role in the implementation of deinstitutionalization (e.g. judges, doctors, health professionals and others). Within Component 2, the project envisages intensive training support at all levels of the institutional structures (existing and potential service providers, relevant policy makers in the MoLSP, Centres for Social Work, the Employment Service Agency, Units of Local Self-Government etc) on all aspects of introducing new models of community-based care based upon an individualized approach according to the principles of independent living.

Component 3 addresses the enhancement of local self-government involvement in the development, provision and expansion of community based social services.

Following the selection of 10 (ten) municipalities, Component 3 activities include: conducting needs assessments of local social services and of persons with disabilities as service users, setting up relevant working groups, developing action plans and providing technical support to the selected municipalities. These activities will provide a deeper insight into issues that are specific to each municipality and will need to be duly considered throughout the implementation of the project.

Component 4 addresses the challenges related to lack of coordination between ministries and institutions active in different sectors (e.g. housing, education, employment and health), and a lack of awareness of the benefits of community-based policies amongst the wider public. Effective and meaningful communication has been hampered by a lack of integrated understanding and awareness. It has been held back further by the default attitude being to see disability solely through the lens of compassion as opposed to seeing it as a human rights issue. This has been a major challenge in implementing community-based policies, starting with policy makers who often lack the political will, financial means and sense of urgency to address this policy. Equally, those working in front-line services such as education, employment, health and housing are often not aware of the ways in which they could assist people with disabilities to access mainstream public and private social services, opportunities and benefits. There is also often a lack of awareness among people with disabilities themselves about their rights and about the support services and infrastructure that are available to them. In addition, all the activities in Component 4 have been designed and constructed in order to both harmonize with, and support the activities of Components 1-3 and will be conducted with an approach that is fully Accessible and Inclusive, in all senses of those words.

For more information related to the project: Mr. Bojan Petak, Project Director, +389 (0)71 205 019; e-mail: bpetak@eptisa.com