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Interview with Albert Xifra, head of the Occupational Insertion Service (SOI) of the occupational centre of the Astres Foundation of Girona

“We must continue in the line of adapting to the individual and collective needs of the people we serve, always taking into account their interests and desires”

Albert Xifra i Torrent (Girona, 1983) Since 2006 Albert has been in charge of the Occupational Insertion Service (SOI) of the occupational centre of the Girona Stars Foundation. Today we wanted to talk to this young veteran of the people who, from the Astres Foundation, tries to leave his grain (or granàs) of sand to improve the quality of life of the people for whom they work. In the world of work, he has experience in the field of health, lifesaving, as well as in the world of music and shows. However, today we will explain his career in the field of people with functional diversity.

His entry into the third sector was at the Sant Gregori Consortium. “Then I started working for FPE at Llar 2000 where I keep a very good memory of it,” she says. Until, in 2005, the opportunity arose to work at the Occupational Center of Girona (Astres Foundation) in the Occupational Therapy Service (STO).



What is a day in Albert Xifra’s life like?

Very intense and frantic since I consider myself a very active person. When I wake up, the countdown begins so that I can deal with family obligations and plan the day. I move to work and the day begins! We organize the day and make a conference of contacts with people attended who are doing an ACP outside of Astres.



Individual actions that are carried out with the people attended with the collaboration of external companies, internal services and third parties in order to respond to their needs and /or desires.

Well, as I said: When we start, we take advantage of the first hours to facilitate support spaces for those who need it. It is always good to talk about the problems that concern them, which are the ones that affect us all, basically, but that in the center have the place, the person and the time to share them and, to be able to be, solve them. That day they may have become angry with their parents or lost their wallet, or the bus, or they have some of those headaches. And here we are, for them, in this aspect. Afterwards, and there are no setbacks, we continue to do the scheduled personal adjustment and therapeutic occupation activities.



Ui! We make a lot of them. We do sports, yoga, cooking workshops, let’s make the touch, etc. But the one that succeeds the most, undoubtedly, is equine therapy. We leave, once a month, near Rupià, with the Ponies of the Empordà. It is a very grateful activity that we have started this 2019.


“A success that flatters me is when every Monday the people attended come happy and eager to attend the service”.


Group image of the people treated to the SOI on a beach trip this summer.


But the day goes on…

Having eaten, we take the opportunity to organize and anticipate the activities of the next day, comment on how the day has gone. It’s a way of taking stock…


And if we take stock of you, what do you like most about your work?

Ugh! I’d make you a list of them…


Let’s go!

  • Understand and accompany each person attended in their day to day.
  • Live close by and feel involved in the small and great successes achieved by the people attended.
  • Achieve the different skills that the job requires since it is necessary to be multifaceted and respond to a wide range of areas.
  • Deal with external clients, learn new production processes and optimize them by adapting them to the capabilities of the person.
  • Keep the spaces and facilities of the service up to date, with its documentation… and, above all, the ability to adapt to change and improvisation.


Adaptation, change, improvisation… all this is like a kind of constant mental gymnastics… And is that a good thing?

Of course! Unforeseen events often arise that force to change plans (mechanical breakdowns, job spikes, the indisposition of someone, lack of therapeutic occupation, etc.). It is necessary to deal with it urgently and effectively. And that’s good, of course.


We can’t change reality, but how we face it…

Exact! And a success that flatters me is when every Monday the people attended come happy and eager to attend the service.


And what are the main difficulties you encounter? Some overcome over the years and some that remain structural, I suppose…

One of the most common problems, as I told you, is not having a constant workflow. The occupational insertion service must carry out 75% of the day doing therapeutic employment activity, usually handling jobs. When we do not have an order from external customers we cannot perform chain work. To solve this situation, we have reinvented ourselves and carry out maintenance tasks and our own product.


Users of the SOI of Stars in one of their handling tasks. Here are the jars of Bach Perfumes.


And, to finish, what do you think are the main challenges for the future that you have?

We are rethinking the objectives of the service. Despite not having done a job placement for some time (partly due to the current situation of the sector) the service “works” and success is not given by the number of people inserted each year. “It works” means that the people we serve have a good quality of life. That instead of ensuring that we make work inserts for the near future, we must continue in the line of adapting to individual and collective needs, trying to implement ACP’s to all the people attended, taking into account their interests and desires.


It doesn’t seem easy!

No. But we try to do it. And these small actions are big oxygen injections for the people we serve, I’m sure. Think that we have managed to formalize volunteer agreements with canine residences, garden centers, with the network of civic centers, etc. In addition, internally, we have delegated administrative tasks and responsibilities to people attended. Soon, we will sign an agreement with a transport company so that a person attended can make one of their dreams that is to go in a truck.


“These small actions are great oxygen injections for the people we serve”


I would like to clarify, however, that under no circumstances are these actions aimed at productive purposes. They all aim to make people feel realized. Certainly, sometimes we are called to extralimit ourselves in our tasks, stretch social network. But the fruits of the involvement of everyone around them are very positive. Therefore, the challenge for the future is to continue with this line and, at the same time, to seek a resource that adapts to the people who are ageing. The reality is this. We will have to reinvent ourselves and adapt the service for the people who are getting older.


Indeed, the aging of these people is a challenge on the part of all… The future embraces us…

Yes, and for us, what remains is to provide them with actions focused on people who are more playful, more flexible, more adapted and equipped with accompaniments, if necessary, in order to give a good quality of life and well-being to the people cared for.


From the SOI, another task is this one provided by Packaging Carbonell


And for many years, Albert. Thank you and all the people in the SOI and STO for your spirit and your work.


Do you want to know more about the Occupational Center of the Astres Foundation in Girona? Here we dedicated an article.