Interview with Hanna Kniat-Szymańska, Director of the Social Welfare Center in Oborniki
What was the path of the Social Welfare Center to take part in the program? Is it worth examining the interest among potential participants before joining such a project?
The Municipality of Oborniki joined the “Support Corps for the Elderly” support program for 2022 by the resolution of the City Council in Oborniki of 23 February 2022. The program is addressed to people aged 65 and over who have problems with independent living due to their health condition, running independent households or living with relatives who are unable to provide them with sufficient support. The Oborniki Council of the Elderly and the Mayor of Oborniki, Tomasz Szrama, together with the entire local elderly community, have been interested in the subject of distance care for a long time, which is why, when the support program started, the Oborniki Municipality immediately joined it.
How were the participants selected? Were factors such as their state of health and financial situation taken into account? What advice can you give to other stakeholders willing to take part in the project in this regard?
The Social Welfare Center in Oborniki conducted an information campaign in the local press and in the senior environment: the “Senior+” Club, the “Miły dzień” Club, the Senior+ Day Home “Jagiellonka”, the University of the Third Age, the Polish Association of the Retired, Pensioners and the Disabled, as well as the Oborniki Council of the Elderly, about the possibility of joining the program.
People interested in joining the program were enrolled on a list of volunteers. Later, after the official commencement of the implementation, a social worker contacted the elderly people in order to fill in the qualification documents and hand over the wristbands. In this way, the first group of 50 elderly people was selected. Since the interest was very high and we still had funds from the program, we included another 40 elderly people. In total, 90 wristbands are active to this day, and 104 elderly people have benefitted from this help.
After a year of participation in “KWS” [“Support Corps for the Elderly”], do you see the benefits of participating in the program for individual participants and for the entire elderly community?
Thanks to the accession of the Oborniki Municipality to the support program, the sense of security of the elderly increased, which had a positive impact on independent living in the local environment. The elderly are very positive about the “Support Corps for the Elderly” program, which helps them spend time actively and watch out for their health. At the same time, new people interested in using this form of support are applying, which proves the relevance of the above-mentioned activities planned to continue in 2023.
Thanks to the securing of funds by the Mayor of Oborniki, Mr Tomasz Szrama, and the Treasurer of the Municipality of Oborniki, Ms Joanna Gzyl, for 2023, as part of its own tasks, the Oborniki Municipality has been implementing the “Support Corps for the Elderly” program again since January this year.
Within six months (from August 2022 to January 2023), the elderly people made 453 emergency calls to the Remote Medical Care Center. The paramedics contacted the elderly 449 times, including 127 calls related to elevated heart rate. Do you think that telecare provided in this way is needed nowadays?
“Remote care” is a modern form of care for the elderly, the sick, people who have undergone medical procedures, and people with disabilities who temporarily or permanently require support in everyday life. This is an excellent solution especially for lonely people, both those who use care services and those in whom the unpredictability of health changes requires constant observation. Thanks to the device, we can immediately react in the event of deterioration of the elderly person’s condition, notifying the competent services and providing assistance as soon as possible – including medical assistance as part of health care services financed from public funds.
I believe that this form of support is needed nowadays. Cooperation with Comarch runs very smoothly, there is a constant flow of information and there are no difficulties in the efficient operation of the wristbands.
How was the training on the use of the wristbands for the elderly conducted in Oborniki? Have you encountered any technological barrier that some elderly people have not been able to overcome?
First, the social workers from the Social Welfare Center in Oborniki were trained by Comarch employees in the use of the device, and then they individually taught the elderly qualified for the program in the use of the wristbands.
There were no difficulties in terms of learning how to use them. Our elderly people are very open to new technologies and solutions that make their everyday life easier. The implementation of the program met with a positive response from the elderly community, which is why we decided to continue the “Support Corps for the Elderly” program.