Other forms of support and care


Occupational therapy workshops

Stock photo. Posed by model.

Occupational therapy workshops are organisationally and financially independent establishments for people with disabilities (including persons with mental disorders) who are unfit for normal employment, to provide them with social and occupational rehabilitation, thus allowing them to develop or recover skills and abilities necessary to take up employment.

Workshops can be established by foundations, associations, or other entities. They are intended for individuals with a disability certificate who are unable to work, and are referred to receive rehabilitation delivered at occupational therapy workshops. Occupational and social integration is supported through:

  • occupational therapy,
  • training in life and social skills and competences,
  • assistance in establishing contact with employers, in starting and maintaining employment.

Considering the specific nature of disabilities attributed to mental diseases, dedicated occupational therapy workshops are established for persons with mental disorders, as well as for people affected by mental disabilities.

Occupational therapy workshops dedicated to people with mental disorders can be organized by healthcare institutions: hospitals, outpatient clinics, as well as associations and foundations supporting mentally ill people.

Employment support centres

Employment support centres are established to offer employment opportunities to people with a serious disability, and to develop their occupational and social skills and competences to the best of their individual abilities to live actively in a community.

Employment support centres are organizationally and financially independent entities incorporated by local government authorities (at a commune or district level), or non-governmental or community organizations whose statutory activities are focused on occupational and social rehabilitation of persons with disabilities.

Patients' Clubs

Patients' clubs are a well-established form of community-based care in Poland. They are easy to organize and operate. Patients are not required to overcome any administrative barriers or fulfil any formal criteria. Patients' clubs are easily accessible even to patients with a chronic condition, with severe functional impairments, or for people who are incapable to engage in the daily activities of day care departments, community-based self-help centres, or occupational therapy workshops.

They may visit the club on a daily basis, once a week, or even once every few months. Patients' clubs are intended to help patients stay socially active, for example by inviting patients to attend:

  • "tea parties",
  • meetings with interesting people,
  • musical soirées,
  • social evenings,
  • birthday or name day celebrations,
  • religious and state celebrations.
A patients' club can also organize sports activities, excursions, bonfires, and other types of leisure activities.


The biggest advantage of patients' clubs is that they offer a place where patients can spend their time and liaise with other club members. They feel less lonely and socially excluded because of their illness.

It is worth knowing that...

There are no attendance lists or responsibilities, apart from arranging the meetings (tea, snacks, cleaning up). No referrals or qualification procedures are in place. An episode of a mental illness and psychiatric treatment is the only inclusion criterion. This lack of formal structure is one of the biggest advantages of patients' clubs.

In Poland, patients' clubs are very popular. They are affiliated to mental health outpatient clinics, day care departments, as well as inpatient establishments. Some clubs are operated by non-governmental organizations, community self-help centres, occupational therapy workshops, community care establishments, within the framework of both healthcare and social welfare systems.

A Fountain House is a particularly interesting type of a club house offering a broad range of activities, as well as transitional employment options for people living with mental illness.

Rehabilitation camp

Rehabilitation camps are a structured form of rehabilitation and therapy delivered in sessions over a specific period of time (mostly 2 weeks) in a group of 20-30 people (following psychiatric treatment) who arrive to stay at a rehabilitation centre.


Rehabilitation camps teach self-reliance. They offer a chance to escape from the monotony of daily life.

As a rule, rehabilitation camps are located in tourist resorts, while participants can enjoy new experiences and develop their knowledge by attending excursions and sightseeing activities. They help participants build a wider network of social relations and make new friends. Various types of activation-focused programs are delivered during rehabilitation camps, aimed at improving physical fitness and performance, enabling persons with mental problems to learn and practise life and social skills.

During rehabilitation camps at all-access health or holiday resorts, persons with mental disorders can integrate with other groups of individuals residing in the same establishment, thereby reducing their feeling of social isolation and stigma caused by mental illness and psychiatric treatment. Rehabilitation camps can be organised by healthcare establishments, social welfare centres, and non-governmental organizations. Unfortunately, rehabilitation camps are increasingly difficult to organise in the recent years due to a funding shortfall.

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