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26.01.2020

It was their fate to meet old age alone, and even during the war, not far from the combative line. The circumstances are different: someone has no family at all, whose children live far away and cannot visit the elderly often.

However, the worries are the same: illnesses and old age do not make it possible to cope with housework and household routines. It is over their ability to make the fire burn up, bring wood and coal to the house in the winter. Getting to a hospital is beyond their grasp.

Finally, the elderly had helpers. The two-year project “Model of Social Services and Medical Assistance in Donetsk Region of Ukraine” has been underway for 5 months in 13 frontline villages of Donetsk region. It is funded under the assistance program of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland and implemented under the coordination of the Polish Foundation “The Solidarity Bridge” by the Charitable Foundation Caritas Mariupol. Care services will be developed from August 2019 to August 2020, and health services will be developed next year. The total budget – 3 700 000 UAH.

What is it about? 50 social care professionals serve 150 elderly, lonely people, as well as people living on the demarcation line with chronic illnesses and special needs.

Guardians visit their wards every day to deliver food, water, and medicines. They also cook, clean the premises, do laundry, accompany to a doctor, assist in personal hygiene, do seasonal work (rake leaves, bring firewood and solid fuel to the house), pay for utilities, and draw up legal documents together. The elderly are very pleased with the ordinary human communication, which is now also received from their assistants.

Who are these guardians? Where did they come from? They are from the same front-line settlements. These are energetic men and women who have families, houses and live somewhere close to the elderly. Having agreed to participate in the project, they receive both work experience (because they work on a contractual basis) and a fixed money reward. In advance, during June-July last year, future specialists have passed social and first aid courses, learned how to protect themselves from infectious diseases, and received psychological training.

The project psychologist is constantly working with the guardians. This helps them prevent emotional burnout syndrome. After all, these people live close to the front line in steady stress, and they also have a great responsibility for the fate of the wards. If necessary, counseling services are also provided to recipients of social services. The social project staff supervises the work of the guardians.

Two mobile medical teams (a doctor and a nurse in each team) are also constantly working in the locations. Doctors diagnose wards and give recommendations based on the patient’s medical history. They also assess medical needs, and nurses assess social problems and financial status.

So, the care project will last until August this year, and what comes next? No one organization will fund it forever. It turns out that poor old people will be left alone with their worries again. There is a great hope that no. After all, one of the priorities of the project is to provide guardians with the opportunity to work and earn for their family on their own by registering as a sole proprietorship or by establishing a public organization. A methodology of developing the guardians’ entrepreneurial skills is being developed for this. Also, all project participants wishing to start their own business in the field of social services will receive the necessary advice and legal assistance. They also have a chance to receive a grant of 10.000 UAH for the purchase of the necessary equipment for their activity.

It is planned that by the end of 2020, at least half of the social work professionals will register as sole proprietorship or will form NGOs. In what form this will be implemented depends on the capabilities and needs of the inhabitants of each settlement, as well as the presence or absence of support from local communities. It will be appropriate to create a mini-shelter for the elderly. Some of the project participants will be able to unify the winnings and purchase the necessary equipment for general use (furniture, if there is a separate placement, walking frame, technical equipment, etc.). The only thing to be sure of is that they will be provided with legal and accounting support from Caritas Mariupol mentors at the initial stage of the formation of such enterprises.

The second, not less important part of the project “Model of Social Services and Medical Assistance in Donetsk Region of Ukraine” is the creation of a stationary medical room based on the Caritas Mariupol organization. Two medical teams working here are able to open a license at the Ministry of Healthcare and receive the necessary training. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland has already purchased the necessary medical equipment, including the latest ultrasonography apparatus. Healthcare providers serve the beneficiaries of the project free of charge until the end of 2020, and from the beginning of 2021, the enterprise will go to self-sufficiency.

Therefore, Caritas Mariupol during the implementation of this project creates a model of social services that will be relevant for the future. The benefit is obvious. Older and lonely people will receive the support and care they need, guardians and doctors will earn extra money.

Yuliia CHEBRETS/Hromada No. 1 (10), 2020

Iryna ZARUBINA, a project manager: – Caritas Mariupol implements three social care projects. The “Polish” project is quite atypical, because after its completion, all the equipment (for example, for the medical room) remains with us, and needy segments of the population will be able to continue using it. On a monthly basis, monitors from Poland come to us and go to the buffer zone to see for themselves how the project is being implemented and get to know about the needs of the guardians and beneficiaries. Among the latter achievements, the social workers of Myrnyi, Pavlopil and Kamianka wished to have carrier bags, so that they could carry drinking water more conveniently. Soon after, they got them. Our partners see that in addition to helping many lonely elderly people, we have also provided employment for 50 frontline village residents. For this reason, they have a great desire to cooperate with us in the future.