Older persons cannot fully realize right to social assistance

Despite new services implemented during the last few years, the older persons cannot fully realize the right to social assistance. The lack of equity is a problem. Also, the non-understanding of the eligibility criteria becomes a barrier to accessing social services, show two reports produced by the Platform for Active Aging. The authors said clarity should be ensured in the field, including on the segment of legislation.

In a news conference at IPN, Dina Ciubotaru, project coordinator of HelpAge Moldova that runs the secretariat of the Platform for Active Aging, related that the interviewed older persons said the provided social services center primarily on the physiological needs, while the communication and social integration needs are ignored. The older persons said they need assistance in housekeeping, to be brought food products and medicines at home. They also said they need a social laundry service and canteen.

Dina Ciubotaru spoke about the necessity of engaging older persons in the decision-making process at the local level. This is necessary for them to be able to speak about their needs and to better understand how they can contribute to the development of the community. Today the older persons do not know well what services they can benefit from and where they can access them. Discrimination on grounds of age and low incomes is felt.

The Platform for Active Aging expects a service typical of the needs of older persons to be included in the minimum package of social services. An electronic register of the needs of older persons and of applicants for services is needed. In the medium to long run, the normative framework should be adjusted and policies should be further developed. A law centered on older persons that would ensure the social protection of these people is necessary.

Speaking about the relatively low budgets earmarked for social services intended for older persons, Dina Ciubotaru said these services are distributed non-uniformly. Even if new services were launched the last few years, these do not fully satisfy the needs of older persons. The COVID-19 pandemic was a major challenge that led to a reduction in the allocations on this segment and to the limitation or even suspension of particular services.

Cristina Railean, secretary of the Platform for Active Aging, said that the social services intended for older persons were diversified and continue to be developed. They meet the minimum quality standards and a large part of them were accredited in accordance with the law. There are public and private providers of social services that have experience in developing services. There is yet no coherent concept or view about the social assistance designed for older persons. At different decision-making levels, the solutions and policies that need to be developed to ensure the right of older persons to social assistance are perceived partially and distortedly.

According to the Platform for Active Aging, at the beginning of this year each fifth person in Moldova was older than 60. As population aging continues, the rising number of older persons should be gradually addressed. Policies to better organize social services at local and national levels are needed.

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