Elzbieta Szwalkiewicz

Ashoka Fellow
Olsztyn, Poland
Fellow Since 2003


This profile was prepared when Elzbieta Szwalkiewicz was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2003.
The New Idea
A nurse and lawyer, Elzbieta is shifting Poland's long-term care from inefficient hospital wards to small, private-owned centers in a holistic approach to address the medical, emotional, and social needs of disabled or elderly people and their families. She is opening the market and encouraging competition for long-term care services where government funds are effectively relocated and voluntary insurance and individual fees are introduced. Elzbieta is combining practical experience with strong lobbying instruments to influence public policies in terms of care for long-term, chronically ill, disabled, and elderly people.
Elżbieta is also addressing the gap in medical training that leads to many inefficiencies and substandard care. Her system of educational training for stationary and in-home care is a client-centered system that incorporates actual patient needs, educating both the family and patient. The concept is based on cooperation of patient, family, healthcare institutions, social aid centers, citizen sector organizations, and government. Elżbieta is working to spread her high-quality approach through partnerships with government officials and the country's Ministry of Health. She is also instituting a media campaign to influence social misconceptions surrounding disability and old age.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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