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Symposium 2014 Foster family care
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Symposium OPZ Geel - Community care: Foster family care as an inspiring model

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On 16 May 2014, OPZ (Public Psychiatric Care Centre) Geel organised a symposium on Foster family care (psychiatric foster care) as an innovative care model in current mental health care (MHC).

Geel's psychiatric family care programme is an interesting form of psychiatric care which not only has a rich tradition, but remains an innovative and inspiring model for the future. The years of experience with psychiatric foster care can in fact be a source of inspiration in community care. The recent expansion of foster family care approaches in various European countries attests to this. The Geel model, which has been further adapted to the intrinsic societal, cultural and social context, has provided inspiration. Good examples are the German model of assisted living in a family context (‘Betreutes Wohnen in Familien’; Germany, Austria and Switzerland), the French model (‘Accueil familial thérapeutique’) and the Italian IESA model (‘Inserimento Eterofamiliare Supportato di Adulti sofferenti di disturbi psichici’).

In Belgium, too, this specific form of foster care offers various possibilities for MHC reform. In recent years OPZ Geel has been fully committed to differentiate and modernise the model based on an evidence-based methodology.

In its modernised form, Foster family care can be readily incorporated into the new psychiatric care landscape that is developing in the framework of MHC reform in Belgium (‘Artikel 107’), especially in connection with functions 3 and 5. This special form of foster care could also have a place in the spectrum of supportive housing in other Belgian regions from the point of view of differentiated assisted living (function 5). Moreover, Foster family care can fulfil an inspirational role in implementation of function 3, which involves rehabilitation with the focus on (re)integration and social inclusion; specifically, for example, in the existing initiatives on work (day activity centres and supported work programmes) and leisure (meeting centre, leisure facilities, and social inclusion initiatives such as for example art and theatre projects). The expertise necessary for this - with regard to the criteria for successful expansion of the approach - is in addition widely available.

Moreover, in terms of healthcare economics this is an approach in which resources are very efficiently used to support chronically psychologically vulnerable people.

During the symposium, OPZ Geel is aiming to initiate a dialogue with care professionals in MHC, the social work and welfare sectors, care managers, policymakers and policy officers, government representatives, various stakeholders and interested parties in the broader sense. In that sense the symposium offers a forum where participants can work together on finding various solutions for allowing the Foster family care model to be inspiring in the context of community care and current MHC reform.

The following topics are considered:

  • Foster family care as a source of inspiration in community care.
  • Foster family care in the context of MHC reform in Belgium.
  • Foster family care in Geel today: an innovative differentiated model, with special attention to ‘children in foster families’ as an innovative project.
  • Foster family care from the perspective of healthcare economics and the financial point of view.
  • Foster family care in current modes of application from an international perspective.

Scientific committee

Prof. Dr Chantal Van Audenhove
Dr Eric De Smet
Dr Walter Krikilion
Wilfried Bogaerts.

Simultaneous interpretation facilities and information

Contributions are in both English and Dutch. Throughout the symposium, participants can make use of simultaneous interpretation facilities in the plenary sessions (in both directions: English-Dutch and Dutch-English).

During the breaks there is ample time for networking and visiting the various information stands such as those on the current range of services, the Foster Family Council, the Foster Family Care Patient Council, the ‘recovery orientation’, foster care in the province of Antwerp, and European foster care networks.

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For further information, please contact day chair: Dr Walter Krikilion, psychotherapist and theologian, staff member in patient care, OPZ Geel, tel. + 32 (0)14 57 93 18 or e-mail: walter.krikilion@opzgeel.be.

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