Elderly people receive better assistance and home careDec 2, 2016
Traditionally the elderly were a lynchpin in Uzbekistan’s family-led society – they hold respect from their families and communities, and the care they receive from their families is an assumption. But if for some reasons the elderly persons become lonely they can feel abandoned and isolated. Lubov Kuzmina has lived this life.
“I’ve lived alone for four years already,” said Ms. Kuzmina, a 78-year-old pensioner in Tashkent region’s Zangiota district. “I feel alone and helpless when I cannot do everyday household chores. But things changed this year.”
Since 2014, the ‘Improving Quality of Social Service Delivery for Persons with Disabilities and Lonely Elderly People in Uzbekistan’ project, implemented jointly by the Ministry of labor, Ministry of health and UNDP Uzbekistan, has bridged gaps in the care needed by citizens like Ms. Kuzmina.
It has operated on several levels. Firstly, it helped support the developed of related legislation, specifically the Cabinet of Ministers’ Resolution #237 dated August 10, 2015 ‘About measures on further strengthening targeted social protection and support of the elderly and people with disabilities’. 2015 was declared the national Year of Care for the Elderly, making assistance for this demographic a collaborative national priority.
The new legislation personalized social support for elderly citizens and people with disabilities, including those who hadn’t been able to contribute to the state pension fund. The provision of a standard number of visits by care workers, and a set basket of basic supplies, has been changed to an individualized approach to addressing needs – helping maintain a decent lifestyle for thousands. Every three months, additional people requiring care are identified.
“People from the social protection service visited me early this year and asked many questions about my living conditions and health.” Ms. Kuzmina shared with UNDP. “Now a social worker comes to my house twice a week. She monitors my health situation, helps purchase goods and medicine, and with cooking and cleaning.”
“Every month she brings me a free set of goods consisting of 15 items including flour, rice, buckwheat, pasta, meat, chicken, butter, eggs, sugar, vegetable oil, tea, butter, and also soap, detergent and adult diapers. This assistance has substantially improved quality of my life. And I don’t feel so lonely anymore.”
The results of these efforts have been significant. The breadth of state support has expanded to the degree that more than 200 people in Tashkent region who had previously not received support can now live in greater dignity. Nationwide, the number of vulnerable individuals receiving support is more than 17,000, with access to home-based care, healthcare, rehabilitation and social integration services.
Organizing this care also requires correlation and cooperation between regional and central government, and between nationwide NGOs, different healthcare providers, and between ‘mahallas’ (neighborhood organizations). Another level of the project has been involved in offering assistance and information to these organizations, guaranteeing continued high levels of care.
“It is our responsibility to take care of elder generation which in the past provided care to us and worked for our future. We should do everything to create conditions of decent life for vulnerable people.” said the head of social assistance department of Zangiota district Mrs. Rano Utegenova.
“There are 72 lonely elderly and PWDs registered in our district. We are doing our best to improve their quality of life, health situation, provide them with the food baskets, clothes, and if needed transportation services. We provide them with free walking sticks, walkers and wheelchairs, we direct them to rehabilitation centers and hospitals, where they can get treatment and improve their health.”
Efforts have been made to ensure that this project’s impacts will continue after its conclusion, and indeed the needs of the elderly and people living with disabilities have been highlighted in both the 2016-2020 UNDAF, and in the SDGs. There is an underlined need to better include people living with disabilities – a necessary prerequisite for fair, sustainable and just societies – which is part of the Government of Uzbekistan’s work to establish a comprehensive system of social protection and development.
Since 1992, the United Nations celebrates International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) annually on 3 December around the world. The theme for this year’s International Day is “Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want”, highlighting the role of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in building a more inclusive and equitable world for elderly and persons with disabilities.