Community care for older people: Knowledge sharing workshop
Shalom from friendly Haifa, Israel where, along with my colleague Dina, I have been attending a training course facilitated by United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) on community based services and care for older people.
I want to share some interesting insights from the training so that you too can be a part of the discussion. The participants come from varied backgrounds, including a group of professors from University of Haifa, researchers from the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute in Jerusalem, a professor from European Centre for Social Welfare and Research in Vienna, president of the European Federation for Older People (EURAG) and experts from UNECE and MASHAV-Center for International Cooperation.
Changing notion of life expectancy
The most interesting observation for me has been in regard to the changing perspectives on life expectancy. An older man of 65 in Moldova has a life expectancy of another 11 years, whereas an older man of 65 in Austria has a good 16 years in front of him.
Another way to look at this is that a 60 year old man in Moldova was considered old in the 1970s and had a life expectancy of 61. Given the life expectancy age of 71 today, is he considered old, young or younger-old?
The most important consequences of this change are the implications for policy makers and service providers who need to focus their efforts on creating and enabling better conditions to improve the quality of life of older people.
Community care for older people in Israel
Israel can boast of one of the most developed systems of community care for older people. In fact it is difficult to think of a service needed by older people that has not been developed by communities. A number of organisations active in the field, including government ministries, the National Insurance Institute, local authorities, foundations, voluntary organisations and commercial enterprises have developed community services for older people.
Support is offered through day care centres, home care visits, weekly meetings for socio-cultural activities and healthcare. Volunteers are even trained to do simple vision and hearing tests using specialised equipment.
In addition to this, volunteers are provided with computer training, so that they can share this knowledge with their peers in languages they are more comfortable with.
Best practice methods
We also had the opportunity to visit The Association for the elderly in Ra’anana. They have a strong network of 150 volunteers and 30 staff members working with older people to strengthen creative activities such as sculpture, art and painting lessons. They also do individual and group physical exercises, listen to music and have conversations on different topics. For those who are unable to come to the centre, volunteers are trained to visit them in their houses.
They offer a variety of services that provide vulnerable older people an active and positive support system. I learnt a lot from this course, and am definitely taking some best practice learning back with me for our programmes in Moldova.
Read more about our projects with older people in Moldova.
Read more about our work on community care and older people's associations.