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Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Santarém (SCMS) is a non-governmental organization that has been committed in providing health and social care services since its foundation, in 1500. SCMS assumes as its main Mission: act in a coordinated way within the community where it is placed, improving living conditions of all inhabitants, providing, creating and developing health and social care services suitable to respond to people’s needs and promoting solidarity, quality of life and human dignity. Guided by principles and values of Justice, Ethic, Solidarity, Equality and Quality, SCMS makes efforts to ensure that daily practices are also consonant with the organizational vision upheld: to be an organization of excellence, considering the quality of health and social care services provided at local, national and transnational levels.
The main areas of institutional intervention include services for children, youth, elderly people, and adults in situation of (chronic) illness and/or severe disability (long term care). SCMS provides help and support to individuals and families, particularly those in need and/or experiencing vulnerable situations of different natures. Additionally, during the last decades, the major activities are under its projects to combat poverty and social exclusion. Unemployment, (illegal) immigration, homelessness, substance misuse, alcoholism, mental health issues and/or low income/family budget are frequent causes for requesting help and support.
Organizational development is a key evidence of SCMS’ commitment regarding the effective response to community members’ needs. The number of requests for help increased considerably, the diversity of the areas of intervention and target groups attended are greater as well as the complexity of the situations experienced by service users. As a result, SCMS increased its capacity and range of services available. Additionally, it is now considered one of the biggest employers within the county: more than 220 employees and tens of volunteers contribute on a daily basis to comply with institutional core values, vision and mission. This dynamism gives visibility and credibility to SCMS.
Recently, SCMS has embraced another challenge: it aims to consolidate its role as a certified training entity. After more than 500 years proactively participating in several projects, either as a leader or as a partner, SCMS intends to share its experience and acquired knowledge and/or skills as well as to promote reflections around relevant issues related to its main areas of intervention. SCMS has been able to learn throughout each innovative measure adopted, each step of organizational development, each project (local, national and/or transnational levels) and each partnership. The main goal is maintain this learning process, but share it with community members, other service providers and/or entities in order to empower them with (new) knowledge and skills that may positively contribute for safety, wellbeing and quality of life within the community of Santarém.