Everyone deserves a decent life at old age
For the fifth month in Grushine village in Pervomaiskyi District operates an inpatient department of the district territorial center of social services, in other words - a home for the elderly. It is a place where lone seniors from around the district can receive shelter and care. For the first time in many years in Pervomaiskyi District a new social institution was opened, and it happened through the joint efforts of local communities and donors.
A home where all are welcome
Once Anna could be weeding beets in the field from morning till evening, and now she is unable to put her shoes on by herself. Due to weak feet the granny can barely move and even then only by leaning on walkers. This old lady would be helpless without external assistance, as there is nobody to take care of her, no children, and the nephews had long since left for big cities and are visiting her seldom. Thus, at her 89th year of life Anna had to move from her home in Mihajlivka to the nursing home in Grushine.
"I am not good for anything now. Here, I can only move with walkers and can’t even look after myself properly. An old co-worker who has helped me to get by once told me that there is such a home for the elderly, so I asked to move here, - tells Anna Nozdrachova. – I do not regret moving: it is nice here, we are well looked after and fed. I have friends too - those sharing a room with me. Together we can talk and distract ourselves from the sad thoughts."
There are dozens of people like Anna in Pervomaiskyi District. In search for a better living young people move into big cities and the only ones left in villages are old people. Weak and helpless, they are forced to live out their lives in cold houses, as they can’t muster enough strength to kindle a stove, and also often experience starvation as they have no one to even go and buy bread. To rectify this, the district authorities have initiated the establishment of a nursing home, where lone seniors could receive the necessary care and be looked after.
"According to the law those allowed to stay in such social institutions must be seniors with no living relatives. However, almost in every village there are old people who have children or other living relatives, who do not care nor visit them, for example, relatives living abroad or leading antisocial lifestyle. The opening of a nursing home in the district enables us to consider any such case at the session of the district council and make a decision to admit such a person to the institution," - says the head of Pervomaiskyi District Administration, Volodymyr Pavlenko.
In order not to build the facility from scratch, it was decided to find an empty building, renovate it and adapt to the needs of old people. A suitable building was found in Grushyne village – a former kindergarten.
Every little helps
It took one year and slightly more than million hryvnias to open a nursing home for the elderly. The first contribution came from the benefactors: 300 thousand hryvnias from The Charitable Foundation of Social Development of Kharkiv Region. It is through this donation the project took off - in just a few months half of the building has received capital repairs.
"We are happy to have supported this initiative of the district authorities and local communities, since the creation of such an institution resolves two important problems. Firstly, it enables constant care for the lone elderly. And secondly, it gives jobs to local residents willing to care for elderly as the institution’s staff. Thirteen new jobs for such a village, as Grushine is a good result," – says the chairman of the Supervisory Board of The Charitable Foundation of Social Development of Kharkiv region, Valerii Dema.
The funds for completion of repairs and procurement of heating equipment, furniture and appliances were raised by the whole Pervomaiskyi District. About 350 thousand hryvnias was allocated from the district budget and roughly the same amount – from the village councils, local agricultural enterprises and farmers. The renovation work was finished in October, last year, and in early November the nursing home has received its first residents.
Almost like home
The institution offers permanent or temporary residence. For example, if an elderly person has difficulties working their oven, they can spend a winter in the institution, and with return of warm weather, get back to their home. Recently, this opportunity was used by two now-former residents of the institution – a 93-years-old grandfather and an 86-year-old grandmother. They first met in this nursing home for the elderly and soon became a couple. Eventually, the "newlyweds" have decided to live together and on the first day of spring moved to the home of the groom. After their departure there were eight residents left in the facility - four men and four women.
"The wards are taken care of by nurses around the clock. They dress the residents, bathe them, help them around and so on. The institution also has the essential medicines and the nurse, who is a medical professional, and is constantly there for the residents. Every day the blood pressure of all residents is measured in the morning and evening and once a week a physician visits the institution to examine all of them,"- says Anna Volovyk, Head of the Department for Stationary Care of the Territorial Center for Social Services of Pervomaiskyi District Council.
Overall, the institution can provide shelter for 16 elderly people. The staff there does their best to create a homely atmosphere so that the elderly would feel comfortable and cozy. The efforts of the staff were praised by the Ambassador of Canada in Ukraine, Roman Vashchuk, who has recently visited Pervomaiskyi District and the nursing home for the elderly in Grushine. According to the head of the Canadian diplomatic mission, this facility is a testimony to the successful implementation of reforms locally.
"This is an example of the opportunities that emerge through the decentralization of local communities for development," – says the ambassador.
The initiatives similar to the creation of a nursing home in Grushine are bound to appear. The management of the institution intends to bring order to the local area, to plant flowers and arrange a kitchen-garden so that the wards will always have homegrown fresh vegetables available.
Originally published in the newspaper «Nasha Slobozhanshchyna», № 2 (3), March 17, 2017