Integrated housing, social and health services for mental health rehabilitation – Light Residential
Housing solutions for people with mental health problems in Italy
The aim of Light Residential Projects carried out by the Aiutiamoli Foundation, in Milan, is to ensure a gradual transition to independent living and inclusion in the community for people with mental health problems offering housing arrangements, whether in a group apartment or in single flats, and support in daily living. The Foundation was set up in March 2007, as a non-profit organization, building upon a pre-existing association - Aiutiamoli Onlus – operating since 1989 to deal with the discomfort, pain and loneliness of the mentally ill and their families. Currently Aiutiamoli involves more than thirty psychologists and educators, about 50 people among users’ relatives and users, and 17 users of the ‘light residential projects’.
The main idea of Light Residential Projects is to establish new models of residential psychiatry - based on the idea of flexible, individual, integrated and community-based therapeutic projects - in order to allow the completion of the rehabilitation of the user. An enabling factor is the modification of the local regulatory framework receiving a paradigm shift in the mental health sector. The regional law (Lombardy Region) of "redevelopment of residential psychiatric” introduced light residential projects to support autonomy for people with mental health problems through living outside of residential structures.
The Aiutiamoli Foundation currently manages two ‘Light Residential’ projects in Milan through a partnership between the public (local public health institutions, Municipality) and third sector (associations, civil society organizations).
Core elements of the innovative practice are:
- (a) institutional and governance integration in financing, planning and managing light residential programmes. The financing of programs of light residential (72 Euro per day) is based on regional funds managed by the ASL (Local Health Unit) for the health quota (45 Euro) and funds provided by the Municipality for the social quota (27 Euro);
- (b) organizational and professional integration (shared care) in therapeutic rehabilitation projects for people in light residential care. Blurring boundaries between health (rehabilitative competences) and social (active citizenship) sectors involve services and professional expertise;
- (c) Openness to civil society and to other projects, implemented in the same territorial area, working in synergy with the residential one in order to facilitate social networks, to avoid isolation and to favour social inclusion of people involved in the residential project managed by Aiutiamoli. The active role of relative’s users and volunteers are value added of the practice.