Social assistance benefits


Social welfare centres

Stock photo. Posed by model.

Social welfare centres operate in each municipality, delivering assistance and support to people in need. Forms of social assistance:

  • social work,
  • financial assistance (special-purpose benefits),
  • benefits in kind (clothes, food, accommodation),
  • allocation of support services,
  • referral to specialist consultancy or support centres.

Social assistance is delivered to individuals residing or staying in the territory of a municipality (commune [gmina], or city district), free of charge; some forms of social assistance are provided against payment, depending on the level of income of the assisted person.

Specialist consultancy

Under the social assistance system, municipalities (communes and districts) provide specialist counselling services, including:

  • family counselling services (to help solve marital or parenting issues),
  • counselling services for individuals and families facing a life crisis,
  • counselling for individuals addicted to alcohol and drugs and for the families of addicts,
  • counselling for victims and perpetrators of violence.

Counselling assistance is provided free of charge at social welfare centres, crisis intervention centres, family support centres, consultation desks for addicts and their families, and for the victims and perpetrators of abuse and violence (as per Social Assistance Law Act, Act on Upbringing in Sobriety and Counteracting Alcoholism, Act on Counteracting Drug Addiction, and Act on Counteracting Domestic Violence).

Crisis Intervention Centres

Crisis Intervention Centres provide psychological, social, legal, educational, and therapeutic assistance, including, as required, psychiatric consultations, social interventions, mediations, advocacy, and temporary shelter (hostel accommodation). Assistance is delivered to individuals in crisis, with a focus on the following difficult life situations:

  • family conflicts, domestic violence,
  • aggression,
  • sexual violence, child sexual abuse,
  • addictions,
  • suicides,
  • perinatal loss,
  • unemployment,
  • accidents, disasters,
  • rapes,
  • mourning, grief, traumatic experiences,
  • crimes,
  • discrimination,
  • abuse of power.

As a rule, each crisis intervention consists of the following stages:

  • diagnosis – analysis of events and key conflicts out of which the crisis emerged, and identification of the vulnerabilities of the person in crisis and how he or she responds to life challenges;
  • evaluation of how person in crisis perceives their situation, and assessment of the causes of conflicts;
  • assistance in dealing with emotions and reactions, listening, discussing alternative scenarios;
  • establishing an action plan through active involvement of the person in crisis, in order to end the crisis or solve a conflict;
  • accompanying and helping the person with the implementation of the action plan – assisting them in finding support (family, friends, institutional help).


Emotional reactions and cognitive disorders in the affected person are psychological problems – the person in need requires psychological and social interventions, however, he/she does not necessarily suffers from mental health conditions necessitating a medical intervention.

It is worth knowing that...

An unsolved crisis may contribute to the development of mental disorders or psychosomatic conditions.

Stress-associated mental disorders can be identified as such based on symptom type, severity and intensity in proportion to the stimulus, as well as non-responsiveness to psychotherapy and psychosocial interventions. In a case like this, medical consultation is essentially required. Crisis intervention centres offer consultations with a psychiatrist, or the person in crisis is referred to a specialist outpatient centre.

Did you know that...

You can seek help from a crisis intervention centre without a referral from your GP, either in person, or by phone; many crisis intervention centres operate 24/7, or according to scheduled work times.

Crisis intervention centres are established, financed, operated, and supervised by county administrator's offices (), community-based family counselling centres, social welfare centres, county offices, or municipalities.

Family Counselling Centres

Specialist consultancy offices for families, operating at the district (poviat) level and in larger cities. Their major goal is to support families, and in particular to:

  • promote family life and healthy lifestyle,
  • provide expert assistance and counselling services to families,
  • support families in dealing with problems,
  • deliver education and information concerning family life issues.

Family Counselling Centres offer:

  • psychological, parenting, and educational consultations and advice,
  • legal advice,
  • marriage and family mediations,
  • individual and group psychotherapy (for adults, children, and youth),
  • marriage and relationship counselling, family therapy,
  • support groups,
  • trainings, workshops.

You can go to a family counselling centre without a referral; all counselling services are delivered free of charge. Family counselling centres offer assistance to the residents of a local district (poviat), commune (gmina), or city district.

Residential care homes

All individuals who are incapable of satisfying their basic needs – because of a mental condition or disability – and are thus unable to exist independently, but cannot be properly cared for in their own homes, or are hospitalized in a mental hospital, but qualify for permanent outpatient care at home, have the right for 24-hour care as residents of residential care homes.


The role of residential care homes is not restricted to satisfying the basic needs of persons staying at the residential care home. Residential care homes implement programs aimed towards activating and improving the overall functioning of residents through occupational therapy workshops and rehabilitation sessions.

The following services are also available:

  • medical examinations,
  • specialist health assessment,
  • medical therapy and psychotherapy,
  • medications and orthopaedic equipment.

Rehabilitation is managed by a physician and, whenever possible, a psychiatrist.

Residential care homes are focused on preparing residents, to the extent possible, for independent living and self-service. Residents are supported in their efforts to find gainful employment, preferably serving a therapeutic purpose.

Residential care home is a place where residents should be able to satisfy their religious, spiritual, and cultural needs. Residents are encouraged to engage in self-government activities and to foster and develop relationships with family and local community. Also, residential care homes educate their residents on their rights, protect those rights, and ensure impartial and efficient handling of complaints.

Which documents are required to be admitted to a residential care home?


An application for admission to a residential care home is filed by the person concerned or his/her legal representative or legal guardian.

Such an application should include:

  • family and social history compiled by a social worker from the competent social welfare centre,
  • medical certificate concerning the applicant's health condition,
  • opinion of a social welfare centre concerning the person's performance status (ability for personal self-service),
  • decision concerning the granting of a pension, retirement benefit, or fixed allowance, and the amount of benefit,
  • consent of the person concerned to cover payments for the residential care,
  • interview with family members of the person concerned, who are required to cover the costs of residential care, or an agreement on participation in residential care costs,
  • for incapacitated persons: court's decision on incapacitation and the establishment of legal guardianship, and decision authorising the legal guardian to place the incapacitated person in a residential care home.

The application should be filed to the competent social welfare centre at the place of residence for the person concerned. The documents are compiled by a social worker of the competent social welfare centre, and the decision of admission to a residential care home is issued by a local family support centre, following review of documentation and opinions from the social welfare centre.

If the person concerned refuses to agree to reside at a residential care home, but is unable to make an informed decision in this respect because of a mental condition or mental disability, while staying out of a residential care home could endanger their life – a guardianship court may order that the person be admitted to a residential care home without their consent.

An application to the court can be filed by the competent social welfare institution, and if the application refers to a person currently being treated in a psychiatric hospital – by the head of the psychiatric hospital. Following a ruling by the competent court, the competent social welfare institution chooses the type of a residential care home where the person concerned is to reside at. In this case, neither application to a residential care home, nor community interview are required.

If a person ordered to be admitted to a residential care home has no family, then the police should provide protection of the person's property until a legal guardian is appointed. If a person requires assistance in handling their personal affairs, the head of the residential care home should file for an appointment of a legal guardian.

Did you know that...

Residential care is provided against payment, but the total payment may not be higher than the amount equivalent to 70% of monthly income of the resident.

Also, residential care homes are statutorily required to safely deposit financial means and valuables of their residents. If a resident has no income, the residential care home is required to cover their expenses for the necessary consumer products for personal use. However, the expenses shall not exceed 30% of fixed allowance.

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