Under one roof: the integrated health and social assistance services project

Surprisingly, many people living in cities struggle to access healthcare and social services

A social inclusion project in Brussels is trying to remedy this. The initiative was set up in the Belgian capital to provide medical care and other public services. Smart Regions went to find out more.

Promising health care

In the Brussels region, a large number of people do not have access to basic health care. According to NGO Doctor of the World30% of residents in and around the Belgian capital are not registered with a general practitioner.

This was the case for Pietro before founding the Ribaucare medical-social center in Molenbeek.

It offers a range of services for the elderly, homeless and people with addictions – ensuring they have access to appropriate care and support.

“The service we offer here is a kind of comprehensive support with different entry points. We focus on providing medical care, social services, debt management advice, psychological support. This type of social problem comes up regularly during a medical consultation,” said Thomas Vaessen, doctor at the centre.

Originally from Italy, Pietro arrived in Belgium almost six years ago. He first came to the center looking for help, but now organizes acting classes there.

“It’s an experience that goes beyond the simple fact of coming here because you have pain or a problem. There is a kind of human encounter that happens there”, explains Pietro.

“Working 360° around the person”

Traditionally fragmented services have been brought together under one roof in an effort to have a more efficient patient-centric approach.

Managing Director Pierre Verbeeren oversees the initiative with the help of Médecins du Monde and other local medical and social service centers.

“The concept we are working on is the idea of ​​holistic well-being. This means working 360° around the person. The most important services we provide are health care, mental health services and social services to help with housing, legal issues, access to benefits, but also help in finding work and obtaining other resources,” he says.

European support

The total cost of the social initiative amounted to nearly 7.5 million euros. including 3.72 million financed by the European cohesion policy.

The project includes two medical and social centers. The second is still under construction in Cureghem, Anderlecht, one of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in the Brussels region.

“The aim of this center is to be very accessible, so it will be multilingual and will offer a wide range of activities and services. We estimate that we should be able to welcome around 5,000 to 6,000 people here per year”, specifies Katrien Van. Remortel, Coordinator of the Integrated Health and Social Center Project in Anderlecht.

The Cureghem center should open next spring. The hope is that this will help unite the disparate areas of this part of town.

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