Home Care Services
Home Care Program
The Bulgarian Red Cross introduced an integrated model of complex provision of health and social cares at the homes of older people and people with disabilities with the opening of the first Home Care center in Sofia, Lozenetz in 2003 with the support of the PHARE ACCESS Program. The model is based on the experience of the Swiss Association Spitex and with the support of the Swiss Red Cross it was successfully adapted to the conditions in Bulgaria. As a result, a structured system of needs assessment, training of the staff, services provision and monitoring of their quality has been established.

Home Care Centers
Following the opening of the first Home Care center in Lozenetz, another five centers were opened in different regions of Bulgaria in the period 2005-2006. The Home Care centers in Blagoevgrad, Montana and Plovdiv were supported by the Italian Red Cross and the Home Care centers in Varna and Lovech were opened with the financial support of the German Red Cross. In 2010 another two Home Care centers were opened in Dobrich and in Smolyan, directed mainly towards patients left behind by their relatives as a result of external and internal migration and supported by UniCredit Foundation.

Essence of the Home Care services
Through the provision of Home Care services the Bulgarian Red Cross aims at helping older, chronically-ill and disabled people to overcome their health problems as well as difficulties they face in their everyday life. The Home Care services contribute to improving of the psychological and health status of the patients as well as of their social well-being. The staff of the Home Care centers consists of nurses and home-helpers trained in the specific aspects of care provision in home environment. The nurses provide some primary health cares - taking blood pressure, control of heart activity, bandages, while the services provided by the home-helpers include: maintenance of personal and home hygiene, shopping, feeding, paying bills, support in administrative procedures, etc.
The services are provided at the homes of the beneficiaries following an individual needs assessment and in strict observance of quality criteria worked out within the Home Care Program in the period 2005-2006. An important aspect of the activities of the Home Care centers is the support of the patients capacity for self-help as well as the training of their family members in how to provide the cares needed. The BRC has also developed teams of volunteers at each Home Care Center, who support actively the provision of services at the homes of the beneficiaries after going through a special training.

Qualification of the staff
An obligatory requirement for working at the Home Care centers is the training provided both to nurses and home-helpers prior to their appointment. The BRC is licensed at the National Agency for Professional Education and Training for the provision of a professional training in the following specialty Social services for children and older people with chronic diseases, physical and sensor impairments which has two modules: Home-helpers and Hospital Attendants and the second module Social Assistant. The training is focused on the specific aspects of care provision in home environment. The training programs are elaborated with the support o the Swiss Red Cross, they are in conformity with the European requirements in this field and have been adapted to the conditions in Bulgaria. Trainers in the trainings are lecturers from the Medical University in Sofia and members of the Bulgarian Association of Professionals in Nursing Cares.

Except for the provision of the home care services in different regions of the country, the Bulgarian Red Cross is working actively towards institutionalization and sustainable financing of these services in the future. For the achievement of these tasks, the BRC started a project Home Cares towards Independent and Dignified Life in the framework of the Bulgarian-Swiss Cooperation Program for Reducing Economic and Social Disparities within the Enlarged EU. This became possible after signing of an agreement for the Thematic fund "Reform Fund linked to the inclusion of Roma and other vulnerable groups concerning Home Care Services Activity" Agreement in December, 2011. For the Bulgarian side, the agreement was signed by the Minister of the European Union Funds Management and Head of National Coordination Unit - Mr. Tomislav Donchev, Minister of Health, Dr. Stefan Konstantinov and the Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Mr. Totyu Mladenov. For the Swiss side the Ambassador of the Confederation of Switzerland in Bulgaria, Mrs. Regina Escher signed the Agreement.
The goal of the project is to support the introduction in Bulgaria of a model for complex provision of health cares and social services at home as a form of long-term care for older people and people with chronic diseases and disabilities. The project will be implemented in the period January, 2012 June, 2015 in partnership with the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, the Ministry of Health and the Swiss Red Cross.
Aiming at institutionalization and sustainable provision of home care services in Bulgaria, the project envisages active work in several main areas:
a) Adaptation of the legislative basis in order to allow the provision of home care services;
b) Elaboration and adoption of unified national standards for quality both of the health and social cares provided at home;
c) Elaboration of unified programs for training of nurses and home-helpers/social assistants regarding the specific aspects of cares at home;
d) Definition of the cost-price of each service and elaboration of sustainable mechanisms of financing;
e) Exploring the specific needs of the Roma population as well as the opportunities for provision of home care services among them.
For the achievement of these tasks the experts from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy as well as from the Swiss Red Cross will have a crucial role. Besides, in each area, the project envisages wide partnership with other competent institutions and stakeholders, among them Bulgarian Doctors Union, Bulgarian Association of Professionals in Nursing, National Health-insurance Fund, medical universities, National Association of Municipalities in Bulgaria, etc.
Within the framework of the project four Home Care Centers will be established in four municipalities of the region of Vratsa. For the needs of their functioning 50 job positions will be created, both for nurses and home-helpers, including Roma who will be trained for the provision of medical and social cares at home. The Home Care Centers established will provide regular professional services to more than 400 beneficiaries for a period of 2 years and a half.