The way home
In the post-pandemic context, Italian health care is coming to terms with two increasingly central realities: the rise of the new poor, with their impact on the "health system," and the increasingly frequent diagnoses of serious chronic diseases.
Committed to these issues are the LILT Milano Monza Brianza APS, the association that offers cancer patients in Milan and Monza Brianza numerous health support services (such as accompaniment to treatment, economic subsidies, free housing, health garrisons) and A Casa Lontani Da Casa Odv, the network that includes 60 organizations throughout Italy with the mission of supporting families and patients who face health migrations, that is, they have to move from one region to another to get the necessary care.
Following the guidelines of the PNRR – which among its objectives has that of strengthening the relationship between territorial medicine and institutions – these two realities gave birth, as early as 2020, to a partnership with a project on a local scale (in the Milan area) of health research and support, Volontariato 3.0, which today can see its declination on a national scale with Volontariato 4.0: the activities of out-of-hospital care that see the joint action of LILT, A Casa Lontani Da Casa and Italian hospitals.
The desire to extend the initiative throughout Italy stems from the analysis and problems that version 3.0 of the project highlighted and that Volontariato 4.0 intends to solve, responding to the 5 macro-needs identified:
- Increased need for patient caretaking services (finding housing, care needs and guidance), revealed by surveys submitted to caregivers and patients. Therefore, the project plans to provide free housing in the cities of Milan, Florence, Rome, and Padua to the families of indigent patients and support, including financial support, for necessary health services. This will make the treatment period more manageable for the sick person and family members as it will support them with expenses for travel and stay in the host cities for a total of about 26,000 overnight stays for about 800 households in the homes of A Casa Lontani da Casa organizations;
- More support services for the sick: Volunteerism 4.0 will create new channels of contact between hospital, territory and patient, installing interactive totems and digital maps where interested parties can find out about services offered in hospitals and cities (such as supermarkets, pharmacies, organizations' headquarters) and can search for housing in the network of A Casa Lontani Da Casa. The totems will be placed inside hospitals, while interactive maps will be visible on the A Casa Lontani Da Casa website for participating shelters. Paper maps will also be available and will be located inside the target homes and hospitals.
- Volunteers need to be more informed about digital technologies and, more generally, need to be updated on the types of treatments and diseases that exist in order to be increasingly competent. The project will, therefore, organize a series of online training courses for about 350-400 volunteers already working at Associations in the A Casa Lontani Da Casa network;
- If we are talking about people who have had to move to another city or region to undergo necessary treatment, during their stay the patient and family express the need for help in getting around the area. For this reason, Volontariato 4.0 will offer patients and caregivers the support of 3 groups of "regional" A Casa Lontani Da Casa volunteer tutors who will interface with the various associations to enrich their information regarding supermarkets in the area, places to purchase post-operative supplies, and general orientation on the neighborhood surrounding the hospital where the patient is being treated;
- Although digital media speed up the passage of information from hospitals and caregivers to patients, patients manifest a lack of closeness from caregivers-a "warmth" in behaviors that would emotionally alleviate patients' own problems. Volontariato 4.0 will therefore warm up this relationship, reshaping the presence of volunteers in patients' homes so as to promote the psychological well-being of the entire family unit, activating services that meet daily needs such as preparing lunch, helping children with homework, or simply keeping the sick person company.
To ensure the effectiveness of the Volontariato 4.0 intervention model, a monitoring activity carried out internally by LILT operators will also be conducted. And from here will start the future analysis of the project, with the aim of providing year after year adequate out-of-hospital care that is increasingly adherent to the needs of patients and their families.
Association: LILT Milano Monza Brianza APS, A Casa Lontani Da Casa Odv
Beneficiaries: needy children, adolescents and families
Contribution: up to 140,000 euros
Duration: May 2022 - October 2023