Community care refers to any form of assistance, support and care provided in the local community enabling people to overcome or manage any condition, disability, or life difficulties they may face. Co-production refers to a practice in the delivery of public social services in which citizens and service users are involved in the creation, delivery, and evaluation of public policies and services.


The transition from large residential institutions to community or family settings remains a challenge across Europe, to varying degrees depending on the sector and the country. The UN Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Rights of the Child enshrine the rights to live in community and family settings, therefore we started working towards implementing these rights at local level, through the work of public social services.


Our work with ESN members

Since 2009, we have been exploring the challenges of managing the transition from institutional to community-based services.  We ran a training programme for sixteen policy makers and social managers from Central and Eastern Europe. Additionally, joining the European Expert Group (EEG) on the transition from institutionally to community-based care allowed us to raise awareness and implement training activities at EU and national level.

We also mainstreamed community care in our work on disability and mental health. In 2018, we published a toolkit on independent living and social inclusion for people with disabilities. The toolkit is the result of the work conducted by ESN working group on disability, set up in 2014.


ESN Working Group on Disability, December 2014, Brighton


Our contribution to the European level

We also worked closely with the EU in implementing the European Pact for Mental Health and Wellbeing, shaping policy discussions and contributing with practice examples. We also participated in the European Joint Action on Mental Health and Wellbeing with the aim to develop a European Framework for Action on Mental Health and Wellbeing.

Building up from our work on community care, disability and mental health, we will organise a co-production forum in 2019 to develop policies and practices involving service users in the planning, delivery and evaluation of services.


ESN resources

ESN's Developing Community Care Report (in English, Ceský, Magyar, Polski, and Română; summary in Français)

ESN Seminar ‘Choice and Control for Service Users’

ESN's Mental Health and Wellbeing in Europe Report (English, Italiano, Español, Français, Deutsch)

ESN Working Group on ‘Disability’

Towards more independent lives for people with disabilities. Reflections from Social Services across Europe


External resources

Deinstitutionalisation and Community living - outcomes and costs (DECLOC) report (2007) – executive summary, main report and individual country reports.

European Pact for Mental Health and Wellbeing

EU Compass for Action on Mental Health and Wellbeing


Documents of the European Joint Action on Mental Health and Wellbeing (with ESN involvement)

Working Package ‘Mental Health in all Policies’

Working Package ‘Towards community-based and socially inclusive mental health care’

Working Package ‘Mental health and schools’

Policy brief ‘Mental health in local policies’

European Framework for Action on Mental Health and Wellbeing


Our additional work on Developing Community Care, Disability and Mental Health.