New profession of social coordinator in Russia



The charities Joy in Old Age and Faith, in collaboration with the St Philaret Christian Orthodox Institute, have launched Russia’s first training programme for social coordinators who will help seriously ill people living on their own. They will determine each person’s individual needs (medical, legal, social, psychological and material) and prepare a long-term personal action plan for them. Social coordinators will also help with organising patient treatment, document registration, family support and home-based care.


One of their most important tasks is to maintain as high a standard of living as possible for patients and help them maintain their independence. The assistance of a social coordinator will now mean that a person who has had a stroke, heart attack or serious illness will not have to suffer alone.


“There is a serious problem here and the public needs to realise that elderly, seriously and terminally ill people are part of society and that we could be any one of these people”, said Mitya Aleshkovsky, Chair of the Help is Needed charity.


As part of the entrance exam in August, applicants will be invited to write a short essay. Once selected, social coordinators will begin their training at the start of the academic year at St Philaret’s Christian Orthodox Institute which will last for 12 months. The basic principle of this new profession will be different from that of a social worker. Classes on theory will be held during the evenings with practical sessions organised throughout the day. Those graduating at the end of the course will be able to work in charitable organisations, hospitals, hospices and nursing homes.


“Rather than performing a coordinating role, social workers are involved in providing services such as shopping and collecting someone’s pension and medicines. However, the needs of those in need of social assistance are much broader. A social coordinator is a kind of case manager who understands a person’s individual needs and develops a health-based pathway which involves lawyers, psychologists, doctors, social workers, volunteers etc.”, explained Marina Naumova, Head of Social Programmes and Vice-Rector of St Philaret’s Christian Orthodox Institute.


“The duty of all doctors and nurses is to relieve pain, cure symptoms, provide care to ensure that there are no pressure sores, change incontinence pads. But a medical worker never has time to chat to a person, read a book to them or get to know them”, said Esmina Kayibkhanova, Head of the “Education and Development” programme at the “Faith” hospice care charity.


The training programme will have a particular emphasis on communication skills which are such a vital part of social work.


“The ability to communicate is one of the most important skills for anyone working with seriously ill people, as well as being able to listen. Twelve seconds is the average time a doctor listens to their patient before they start asking questions. If only these doctors would give a person the chance to speak for one minute, as patients themselves would like, perhaps they would find out what they need to know to help with the treatment”, said Kayibkhanova.


Experts say that social coordinators are an integral part of a long-term care system.


Statistics show that Russia currently has 5.5 million bed-ridden patients, 3.5 million in need of constant care and 1.3 million who require palliative care. Most of them don’t receive professional help, assistance with processing documents or even the most basic support.



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