In 2016 Equilibrium took the responsibility to take care of the most complicated cases in the innovative, integrated services open under a project of Ruse municipality in the closed Home for Medical and Social Care (baby home). Our organization chose a bright and warm name for the three services that it manages – Integrated Children’s Services “Slancho” (“Sunshine”). These are three municipal services that provide children with alternative social and health care, and their parents – with specialized support.
The Centre for Family-Type Accommodation for Children and Young Adults with Disabilities in Need of Constant Medical Care offers highly qualified social and health care for eight children. It houses seven infants at the moment and their families are supported, too. A medical team is available 24 hours – a paediatrician and nurses, babysitters, a physiоtherapist and a social worker. The big difference when compared to institutional care is that within this service, even though it has a medical purpose, we encourage and motivate parents and families to accompany or visit their children as long as possible, to be by their side, to love them and enjoy their presence. The mother’s loving presence gives children power for life and improvement. Our task is to make their stay pleasant and comfortable, in harmony with the rest of their parental duties and responsibilities.
The “Mother and Baby Unit” is on the same floor, in the building of the former Home. It is with a capacity of 4 mothers with children up to three years of age, including newborns. The Baby Unit is designed to give shelter but also to train young, inexperienced mothers who have difficulties taking care of their newborn babies, either because of marital problems, lack of support from the family or the community, or because of lack of a secure home environment and relatives close-by. The fact that both services are situated on the same floor gives the opportunity for better care for mothers and babies in the centre. Mothers and babies visit the Unit where the infant receives specialized care and the mother is helped to understand the full implications of the child’s condition.
On the first floor of the building is the Day Centre for Children with Disabilities 0 – 18 years. Small children and babies with disabilities and / or chronic diseases are referred by the Child Protection Department. The Day Centre is with a capacity of 20 children but there is possibility for part-time care and therapy for more children. The centre has at its disposal a range of experienced specialists – a speech therapist, a physiotherapist, a psychologist, an occupational therapist, carers, a nurse, and a pediatrician.
Equilibrium works with external nutrition and feeding consultants from Karin Dom Foundation and calls on other support from the medical profession. We maintain contract with a surgeon, who, if needed, consults on the specific cases.
The main partners of our organization are Ruse Municipality, the Social Assistance Directorate and Ruse District Hospital.
The hospital, according to the new methodology of the Ministry of Health, not only supports the care for the children but also has a key role in their transportation and access to hospital facilities for diagnostics, intervention and treatment. We have an excellent working relationship with the clinic of Prof. Atanasov in Plovdiv, where they work on cases of children with face malformation. The collaboration with the Patients’ Association ALA – Plovdiv enables the parents to be trained on the specific feeding of their newborns, and gives children and parents the chance to return home as soon as possible.
Integrated Children’s Services “Slancho” focus not only on children’s needs but also on their families. The results for the children clearly prove that institutional care is disastrous for their condition and development. The need of the existence of specialized institutions disappears if we invest in the right services that will effectively help families to raise their children at home, where they can get all the love, safety and conditions for development they need.