Ageing and seniority – the quality of life

Oct 2, 2013

Photo: UNDP in Montenegro

The modernization of society has resulted in a significant shift in the world’s demographic profile. The number of older people has tripled over the last 50 years and it is expected that by the year 2050, more than one in every five persons will be aged 60 or over. In these terms, the situation in Montenegro is not different than in any other country. According to the latest census 18.3 percent of the Montenegrin population is older than 65 years.

The growth of the elderly population has produced demands for extensive social welfare measures to protect the well-being. In an effort to ensure basic standards of adequate care for the elderly, the government is implementing social welfare system reform. The focus is on keeping the elderly close to their natural environment, their families and local communities and avoiding placing them in institutions, unless the circumstances clearly demand it. Despite the fact that the government is increasingly assuming the role of protecting people against many of the risks incurred by old age, many remain deprived of full inclusion and participation in social, economic, cultural and political affairs.

With an aim to address these issues first Regional Conference "Ageing and seniority – the quality of life" was organized in order to improve positive practices in the area of development of social services for the elderly. The conference was organized by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, UNDP Montenegro and Public Institution Home for the Elderly "Grabovac", Risan, with the support of Public Company "Morsko dobro". This was realized within the framework of IPA 2010 Project "Social Welfare and Child Care System Reform - Enhancing Social Inclusion", funded by the European Union.

The conference marks the beginning of regional cooperation between institutions and organizations from Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Croatia, Netherlands etc. engaged in social protection of the elderly. Prominent experts in the field of health and social care for this particular group have discussed the ways of promoting the rights of older people and securing their full participation in society.

At the opening of the conference, Mr. Goran Kuševija, Director of Directorate for Social Welfare and Child Care in Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare stated: “The main goal of social protection of older persons in Montenegro is to improve their social status, strengthen social cohesion, encourage and foster their independence and ability to help themselves, as a precondition to prevent their marginalization.” Mr. Kuševija recognized a shift in attitudes among Montenegrins, who are becoming less burdened by the traditional understanding of the institutions for the elderly. According to him, one of the reasons for this is the quality of services provided in institutions such as the Home for the Elderly “Grabovac” in Risan.  

Mr. Rastislav Vrbensky, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative to Montenegro stated: “We may find that the right of the elderly to participate in the society is sometimes compromised, due to the overall negative image that society has of this population. Governments and relevant institutions are obliged to assist in development of a more positive image about the strengths and abilities of the elderly, as well as to enable the elderly to equally participate in society.”

Task Manager at EU Delegation to Montenegro, Mr. Romain Boitard reaffirmed that the EU will continue supporting the overall social reform, including the advancement of the quality of life of the elderly. To that end, € 1.2 million is ensured for the regional programme for the accommodation of the elderly in the municipality Pljevlja. Mr. Boitard pointed out: “Integrated service delivery to elderly requires coordination of different actors, policies and stakeholders. It is, therefore, of crucial importance that the government recognizes and incorporates social welfare reform as its program, particularly in the context of EU accession.”

As a first social and health care institution in Montenegro which has met all the requirements for the quality management system, Home for the Elderly Grabovac was awarded ISO 9001:2008 certificate. John Van Nimwegen, president of “Grabovac“ foundation from Amsterdam, long-time partner of the Home for the Elderly in Risan, handed the certificate to its director Zoran Vukićević.

On this occasion, sales exhibition of works of beneficiaries from homes in Risan, Novi Bečej, Maribor, Sarajevo and Banja Luka was organized, as well as a folklore performance.

Written by: Miljana Babić and Vjera Rolović, interns at the UNDP in Montenegro

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