Farming and social-care combinations in Poland


  • E. Pawelczyk


The situation of social and health care is undoubtedly a field that needs improvement and more attention in Poland. Many groups of society, like homeless, disabled, unemployed or elderly people, lack sufficient support and stay alone with their problems. Expected economic development in Poland in the coming years should imply an increase of expenditures for social care and thereby narrow down the groups that cannot at present get this kind of support. Those two circumstances give great opportunities for development of Farming for Health (FH), as the need for high-quality social care in Poland is rising. At the moment in Poland there are some existing initiatives referring to FH as well. Those are mostly institutional care farms and some care activities on farms initiated by the farmers themselves. Nevertheless, in Poland such examples are not being perceived as an independent and important field in social care and there is no research on this subject. The only project that focuses on and clearly recognizes the issue of FH takes place in the southeastern part of Poland and is the outcome of four years of Polish-Dutch cooperation. Project initiators concentrate on improving the care situation for elderly and physically and mentally handicapped people, as these are the groups that are most lacking good-quality social care, by creating care farms in the region. Care farms, led by farmers, could provide different social-care services for the weakest groups of society and give them an opportunity to participate in farm activities. Project participants believe that, similarly to the experiences from other Western-European countries, care farms will have positive and healing effects on their inhabitants, having in mind physical, psychic and social health. Main challenges for FH in Poland are: * to change the mentality and consciousness of Polish society on the subjects of social care, like old age or mental diseases; * to promote the idea and positive effects of FH in Poland, so that it is known to Polish citizens and conceived as an important alternative in caring for people; * to develop sustainable financing structures for FH; * to learn from other countries with a longer history in FH; * to develop and strengthen the position of the sector of social care in Poland as a whole