A European Project on
Human Rights and Physical Health
of Residents in Psychiatric and Social Care Institutions
Funded by
the European Commission, DG Sanco
a project funded by the European Commission

Project Description

Project ITHACA (Institutional Treatment, Human Rights and Care Assessment) identifies and disseminates best practice to improve the protection of human rights and dignity and the general health status of residents in health or social care institutions with mental ill-health, mental disabilities or dependency.

Altogether fifteen European countries are participating in the project and carrying out the research. Moreover, a wide range of collaborating organizations are serving as an advisory group.

ITHACA is organised in five Work Packages, carried out by five Work Package Leads. Their responsibilities are the development of an assessment tool concerning the human rights and dignity and the general health status of residents in psychiatric and social care institutions, as well as the coordination and evaluation of the project and the dissemination of its results.

In order to reach the defined objectives, a thorough literature review is carried out, focus groups are organized and an assessment tool is developed.

The collaborative efforts of 15 organizations involved in ITHACA will produce a monitoring toolkit based on the CRPD. The toolkit will provide information on monitoring practices, explain appropriate human rights literature and conventions and outline an on-site visit audit. This audit/monitoring visit will involve a team of monitors who would make observations of the physical conditions and the quality of care received by service users. In addition, these monitors will conduct interviews with residents, staff and institution directors, and examine relevant documentation. The data collected from these visits will be compiled into reports for people involved at all levels of mental health care, from service users and family members to support/care staff and government officials. The findings from these monitoring visits will be used by local and international advocacy groups as evidence for lobbying and initiating change within the systems which produce human rights violations.

The ITHACA project is funded by the European Commission DG Sanco, its duration is from May 2007 to April 2010.