To survive, to live to be or to live: what happens in institutions for elderly people in Ukraine

01/06/2016 13:15

Nearly 22 thousand elderly people and those who have disability are inhabitants of 96 houses boarding schools, boarding houses for elderly people, and also 332 stationary units of the territorial centers of system of social protection. However, in the majority of them instead of protection, guardianship and respect elderly people face indifference, insults, abuse of their property or money and even a beating. Data of monitoring of geriatric establishments of the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) are that. What number of similar "private" establishments in the country and how many people are in them is unknown.


Without care and treatment


Among 222 inhabitants of the Vinnytsia house boarding school nearly 90 – people with disabilities, but toilets aren't adapted for those who have physical restrictions. Financing of expenses on medicines – 21,78 UAH a day for one person – that is the largest among residential establishments where there were NPM monitors in four years, however inhabitants are forced to buy medicines for own slender means. They can be washed once a week. In establishment monitors met with the person with an erysipelatous inflammation who is forced to sleep sitting not to suffer from pain, and another – with decubituses. Rooms are spacious, but not well-groomed, there are bent beds in them, worn-out mattresses inhabitants are forced to see off day after day at them, rehabilitation in establishment isn't carried out.

"In such establishments where elderly people and people with disabilities at the same time live whose needs are different, interests have to be satisfied and rehabilitation and leisure have to be ensured both for the 25-year-old person with disabilities who wants to live a full life who need the Internet and communication with peers, and the old woman who needs warmth and rest", – Ms. Olena Temchenko says, the employee of Department for realization of the national preventive mechanism of the Office of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights.

By the way, 18-year-old person with disabilities could be even at nursing home that monitoring of the Dnipropetrovsk geriatric boarding house testified. It happens because of absence in boarding schools of youth units (for aged people 18-35). As a result full age pupils of boarding schools are transferred to geriatric establishments. As the NPM monitoring groups repeatedly emphasized, the problem is system and could be solved by means of creation of establishments of the supporting accommodation for young people with disabilities. It would assist to solve also a problem of shortage of the necessary number of places in geriatric establishments. Demand for geriatric institutions is increased together with aging of society.


Alternative which is absent


Stationary units of the territorial centers of social service (SUTC) had to become alternative to big boarding schools since the beginning of 2000. For today they are 332. The smaller number of inhabitants, proximity to society and an opportunity to meet with the family more often are advantages of stationary units. However, as monitoring testified, and in the stationary units people should survive, but not to live. For example, the analysis of financing of Tetiyevsky SUTC where 20 people live, testified that regional budget financed only remuneration and utilities. For inhabitants even kopek isn't allocated therefore food, drugs, clothes are bought for their pensions. The electric power is saved: in rooms and corridors it is dark (at the same time in an office of the manager four bulbs burn), inhabitants can be washed every two weeks, shower – on the lock, a key at personnel. There were no diapers on one bed patient, one of them lay in a wet bed.

Ms. Iryna Sergienko, the employee of Department for realization of NPM of the Office of the Ukrainian Parliament for  Human Rights: "The personnel are simply not trained to look after and serve elderly people and persons with mental disorders. One of inhabitants complained of beating by personnel. His instinctive reaction to the sharp movements of the manager of office could be confirmation of these words".

Abuse of personal means, especially property, in the territorial centers is not a rarity. So, in Tetiyiv stationary unit  (Kyiv region) the personnel dispose of means of personal pensions  of wards. In the same place the 90-year-old grandmother lives. In establishment she was placed by the social worker who now with a family lives in the house of this grandmother, carried out in it repair, replaced windows. The Talnov stationary unit  (Cherkassy Region) received from wards 150 hectares of the land which it leases to landowners.


What you won't buy for money


Administrations of establishments in most cases remain hostages as various "there is no money", "there is a lot of work, and there aren't enough personnel", and the general system of the indifferent attitude towards people who because of old age or disability aren't perceived as full-fledged members of society any more, Ms. Darya Sviridova, the monitor of the National preventive mechanism, the lawyer considers.

The indifference adjoining on cruelty total dominates in boarding schools for aged and there is the most difficult problem, for overcoming. It can shout on inhabitants, beat them, limit in food, personal space, not to provide  with the adequate aid, for years to deprive of walks in the fresh air and the rights to dispose of the pensions.

"Often boarding schools are far from settlements, it is difficult for philanthropists to reach them, and the state verification are reduced to formal inventory of the areas and financial documents. The visits of the NPM monitors and Ombudsman's Office which are carried out without warning often become the only chance of changes of a situation in geriatrics. And during visits we see also positive examples in work of boarding schools for elderly people. As a rule, not the best financing of such boarding school, namely the responsible, human and not indifferent attitude of administration and personnel to wards is the reason of it. I saw such conditions in the Simferopol boarding house "Kjartlar Evie" created by the Crimean Tatar community, and my colleagues – during visit to the Solobkovetsk boarding school of the Khmelnytskyi Region", – Ms. Sviridova noted.


To come out of the shadow


Social services are necessary for people not less, than social payments. They have to be guaranteed by the state because there will always be people who will need assistance, the expert for social policy of Institute of socioeconomic researches, the NPM monitor Ms. Laryssa Samsonova considers. Besides, the tendency of aging of the population will lead to increase in demand for geriatric establishments. Therefore the person has to have a choice between the state services and private. The last one actually exist in Ukraine today, rendering different quality services of care for aged and are controlled by nobody. Nobody undertakes to name the exact number of such establishments and people in them.


"According to standards, municipal establishments can accept only those who are lonely or have disability. Old which has relatives can get to such establishment only for payment. Therefore the private institutions conforming to standards of rendering of services to elderly people and for reasonable price will be useful. But their activity has to be regulated and reasonably to be controlled, both the state, and a community where they are located", – Ms. Olena Temchenko is convinced.

Ms. Larisa Samsonova emphasizes that "the state has to elaborate rules and standards which any institution has to comply with and guarantee to people safety. To create official registers of all service providers, registers of all recipients and it is reasonable to operate this process. If the state forbids to create establishments and can't provide people with the state services, so the shadow market will be created because there is a demand for these services".

And the respect for the personality, providing with worthy living conditions of elderly people who appeared under the care of the state have to become not less important component of activity of similar establishments. It is a reliable way of observance of human rights in places of detention that doesn't demand financial expenses.