The initial phase of transformation of social services, called ‘de-institutionalization’, has started in Slovakia. The transformation is characterized by the change of the system providing social care. Clients of large-scale institutions should gradually move to newly opened residential units. The aim of the process is to include the clients into social life, help them to get greater independence, self-reliance and personal development. To meet the aim, a radical change in the approach to the design of urban and architectural environment has to take place. This paper looks into basic problems and inputs which rely to this process.