“The document outlines the orientation of the state's measures to be taken with respect to elderly citizens. It is necessary given demographic changes in our country. We live longer but our quality of life tends to diminish as we grow older. The Government of Law and Justice (PiS) intends to change it,” said Deputy Prime Minister Beata Szydło, head of the Social Committee of the Council of Ministers.
Elżbieta Bojanowska, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy presented to Committee members a strategic document summarizing support to be provided seniors, including dependent elderly; it is entitled “Social Policy for Senior Citizens 2030. Safety-Participation-Solidarity”. Its aim is to improve the quality and standard of living of seniors as well as support their long-term independence and activity. It is the first comprehensive document in which the government defines specific solutions to be adopted in all major areas of life of senior citizens, including broadly understood safety, health, active participation in society, as well as the adaptation of infrastructure, health system and labour market to the needs and capabilities of this social group. The Committee’s evaluation of the document was positive.
Social policy for senior citizens
Solutions planned for the elderly encompass seven fields of action. The first entails promoting a positive image of the old age within society, inter alia through education and social campaigns. The second is to promote all forms of activity - civic, social, cultural, sport and religious - among the elderly through the elimination of information and technical barriers and providing support to organizations of senior citizens. Within the third, the economic and labour market potential of the elderly is to be used in order to prevent their economic, digital and technological exclusion. The fourth includes measures in the area of health, disease prevention and access to diagnostics, treatment and rehabilitation, e.g. through the development of telemedicine and telecare, as well as access to technical facilities that support the independence of the elderly. The fifth field of action involves preventing violence and neglect, for instance through the creation of a national counselling network providing services to senior citizens. The subsequent field involves supporting intergenerational integration, e.g. through the implementation of educational projects, support for volunteering programmes and social infrastructure development. The last - seventh - pillar encompasses extensive educational measures regarding the old age and promoting care professions.
Social policy for dependent elderly citizens
For the first time, a document defining the direction of actions taken within a broader framework of the government’s senior policy addresses the issue of dependent elderly; within it, four fields of action have been defined.
The first is to reduce dependence on the assistance of others through facilitating access to services that promote senior citizens’ independence, for instance through the creation of a network of rental services providing equipment facilitating one’s daily functioning, or adapting residential buildings to the needs of the elderly. The second involves providing access to health, rehabilitation, nursing and care services. The third is based on the development of a network of community and institutional services. Within this area, it is recommended that professional caregivers working with dependent elderly patients be required to hold specific qualifications. The fourth area is dedicated to the assistance of public care institutions for informal carers of dependent elderly, inter alia through professional support for families providing home care (counselling, consultations, training for caregivers), as well as assistance for carers in order to temporarily discharge them from their duties.
Support for people with disabilities
Deputy Minister of Health Józefa Szczurek-Żelazko reported to Committee members on the developments following the entry into force of the Act on special measures for citizens with severe disabilities.
“Health care facilities are prepared to provide additional services to people suffering from severe disabilities. Patients are attended to according to schedules consistent with the guidelines developed on the basis of the Act. As of today, no irregularities have been reported,” said the Deputy Minister of Health.
The Act on special rights for persons with severe disabilities entered into force on 1 July 2018.