The International Day of Older Persons is celebrated annually all over the world at the beginning of October. The holiday was originated from the General Assembly of the UNO initiative on December 14, 1990. One of the boosting points to the official establishment of this holiday was a quick ageing of population. In accordance with the international classification person that attains 65 years old is considered an elderly one. There are 269 millions of such people in the world, almost each tenth individual on earth. In Ukraine it is every fifth citizen, 1/6 of them are lonely people.
“In Caritas we have been taking care of seniors for 14 years and don’t want to link respect and mercy to a certain group of needful individuals with a red date on the calendar. The International Day of Older Persons is not only a possibility to remind everyone of human responsibility to be considerate to the most respectful part of the society; it is a call, by the way. It is a reason for reflections on further destiny of human beings, their culture and interconnection between generations,” thinks Fr. Andriy Marchuk, Director of Caritas in Ternopil.
In order to attract attention of the public to needs of seniors in Caritas Ternopil ‘Home Care’ employees organized special dinner. Project clients and other needful elderly individuals were present at the event. The celebration started with a prayer and blessings, and then accompanied by home atmosphere and active communication.
Obviously, not all elderly clients were able to visit the celebration because they are non-ambulatory patients. But social workers and volunteers took care that all project participants received products packages as a gift. Nowadays the government fixed the amount of pension that equals nearly 900 UAH, that’s why seniors in Ukraine lack many basic things – food, clothes and shoes, medicines, – say Caritas workers who have experience of work with such people.
‘Home Care’ project has been operating in Ternopil since 1999. There are nearly 80 needful individuals under constant care. The project is aimed at improvement of living conditions of lonely seniors, the feeble, terminally-ill patients and those who are in need of long-lasting or permanent help from outside because of disease advancement or received injure. Home Care employees provide needful individuals with a broad range of services: assisting with personal hygiene, offering medical and housekeeping services, legal counselling, organized recreation, psychological consultations etc.
The ‘Home Care’ focuses not at separate problems of individuals, but at their personalities and the surrounding environment. Caritas Ukraine stuff does its best to render maximally qualified complex assistance, taking into account not only physical, but spiritual and psychological problems of a person. Employees involved in the project provide the follow-up of clients to the end of the life path; help to avoid institutionalization in care homes for elderly people.
By the end of this year the financial assistance of Caritas Ukraine activity on home care for elderly individuals will come to an end. In particular, Caritas Ternopil is on the way of searching the means for financial support to further implement such work. Administration of local Caritas says it is possible to find money among local donors for small events like this dinner in the framework of the International Day of Older Persons. But it is complicated to get help for a complex project work. There are no state mechanisms of organizations financing that should realize state functions in the sphere of social policy, and absence of corporate social responsibility practice.
“We do everything that depends on us. For instance, we actively involve mass media to highlight our work and to change the attitude of common Ternopil citizens to philanthropic activities, to culture of sharing and supporting the weaker ones,” says Natalia Masnyk, coordinator of ‘Home Care’ project in Ternopil.