Public Chamber discusses strategy for the aged
28 August 2014
The Public Chamber has been discussing a strategy to benefit the aged
Change in how society relates to the elderly, a labour exchange for pensioners, and attracting volunteers were some of the items aired in the chamber during a round table devoted to the conclusions of the Federal Council’s (the upper house of the parliament) presidium which took place in Voronezh at the beginning of August regarding the development of the social welfare system. Proposals made by specialists will be included in a strategy document designed to benefit the elderly. NGOs and representatives of the specialist community were the first to raise the possibility of developing a strategy.
Elana Topoleva, member of the public chamber’s committee on social support for citizens and quality of life issues, considers that once the text of the strategy has been created much may change for the better in practical terms. She has no doubt that the chamber, NGOs, and communal organisations should take part and emphasised the importance of adopting a mechanism for implementation.
The committee’s chair, Vladimir Slepak, thinks that businesses should be invited to create jobs for the elderly and that entrepreneurs who do this should be rewarded, for example, by being granted tax relief. Currently less than one percent of businesses were socially engaged.
Specialists have drawn attention to the importance of cross-departmental cooperation. For example, the ministry of social welfare for the Moscow region has set up advice points in each polyclinic for the elderly where they can obtain advice on pensions and benefits.
Elena Topoleva observed that one of the key tasks was to alter the way in which society viewed the elderly, saying: ‘It is important, however, that the elderly change the way in which they look at themselves so that they don’t regard themselves as second class but as belonging to a valuable, self-sufficient group of no less significance than the young. It follows that publicity and information campaigns about the elderly should be launched.’
Of no less importance was the issue of creating a friendly environment for the elderly.
‘Whilst we equip areas for the use of children when building accommodation, we tend to forget about older people. We don’t build outdoor areas for them but they do need their own places. They are also overlooked when it comes to federal and regional programmes’, she commented.
Participants at the meeting suggested creating communal councils on the rights of the elderly under the auspices of the commissioner for human rights, and to invite NGOs and business to provide services for older people.
Elena Topoleva was sure that: ‘The non-governmental sector’s engagement with the issue is growing and it is not confined to the provision of services whilst evermore companies which want to help the elderly are developing volunteering and charitable activities for the purpose. The fund, Old Age is Fun, is reckoned to have 2,000 volunteers in the Russian regions. This is a resource that we should work with, help and encourage.’
Author: Yulia Vyatkina