An extra institutional protection for the elderly introduced for the first time in one of the smallest and poorest Serbian municipalities.
Mali Zvornik is the smallest municipality in Macva district and one of the smallest in Serbia. An unfavourable demographic situation does not deviate from the state average. Of some 15,000 inhabitants, the number of persons over 65 years of age has almost doubled between the two censuses. The share of the elderly in early 90s was 7.04%. This figure increased to 13.4% in just over ten years. Local self-government and the competent authorities – Social Welfare Centre in the first place – set about resolving the problem. The aging of inhabitants of Zvornik is further aggravated by an outflow of the young people. Old men and women, without heirs, left to themselves become additionally vulnerable.
Thanks to the Social Welfare Strategy drafting process initiated by the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities, Mali Zvornik introduced the program of assistance of the elderly and the neglected for the first time.
“The action “Humanity in the Field” stemmed from the document drafted for the period 2007 -2012. The extra institutional protection for the elderly was organized for the first time on the territory of our municipality” says Layarela Velimirovic, social worker at the Centre for Social Welfare and the Project Coordinator.
As of 1 August 2007 three gerontology nurses and three medical nurses started regular visits to 18 beneficiaries. They are making the everyday life easier for grandfathers and grandmothers. They bathe them, prepare food, clean the households, prepare firewood, purchase food and medications.
Before getting involved in the action, all the six persons were unemployed on the list of the National Employment Service. The program “Humanity in the Field” not only improved the quality of life of the elderly but also reduced unemployment” Lazarela Velimirovic adds.
The benefits of regular visits to elderly households is best illustrated by the words of a 70-year old Zorka Stevic from the village of Radalj.
She says that her home is warmed up by the sun since the gerontology nurse Zorica Aleksic started visiting her regularly. Zorka lives alone in a house without any running water and is a social assistance beneficiary.
The value of the entire project is EUR 10,000. The funds were provided by the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities with the assistance of partners – the government of Norway and IMG and CLDS. These funds were used for training the nurses, purchasing uniforms and a vehicle, hygiene items and other goods.
The local self-government decided to proceed with financing. Over RSD 1 million have been earmarked in the 2008 budget for these purposes, a sum that will be enough for the entire year.
The Social Welfare Centre implementing the project and the municipality wish to improve the program. They will offer the services of gerontology and medical nurses at market prices to those elderly who are able to pay for them. Depending on their pensions they would partially pay for these services. This would allow for extension of capacities and employment of new nurses. Thus, the same project would fulfill two strategic objectives of the PRS: new employment and improvement of the position of the vulnerable categories.