Healthy Ageing Initiative by Organisation SCHOOL-Adding Life to Years

Womenlines takes pleasure to share about a wonderful initiative by an organisation SCHOOL (Society of Community Health-Oriented Operational Links), which is very passionately working on very interesting projects with the teenage group (10 to 19) and also with the elderly group (60+) in India, with the intention to provide the best support system to them while engaging other sectors around too.
This month SCHOOL founder Dr Benazir Patil has shared about a ‘Healthy Ageing’ initiative ‘Adding life to years’ in Pune city in India, where SCHOOL volunteers team spends time with an elderly population and involve them in activities which create enthusiasm in them.it.
This is an ONGOING field project of SCHOOL is currently self-funded by the organization-

Many people are living longer in India, but not everyone who is living longer is adding ‘healthy years’ to their lives. With increasing economic pressures and shifting family roles, traditional ways of caring for the elderly have become difficult to maintain, leaving many senior citizens without a support network. Hence, SCHOOL is working with the elderly with a unique approach to undertaking activities based on their needs and demands.

SCHOOL is working on a field implementation program in 2 slums of Pune city (Kasturba and Indira Vasahat, Aundh), where they are working with 490 elderly women and men, with a focus on ‘intergenerational dialogue’ wherein the youths and adolescents are working as volunteers and undertake visiting activities that include one-on-one dialogue, excursion walks and counselling for the elderly. They organize group sessions and activities that primarily respond to-

  1. The queries on different government schemes and health issues. 
  2. Interests and learning through activities that help in being more active and productive, such as Yoga, Dance, Music, Art, Training and Picnics.

Approach

Working with the elderly to generate dialogue, create enthusiasm to be active and look after themselves, and garner support for the most vulnerable and needy.

Objectives

  • Improve the status of older people and increase their feeling of ‘inclusiveness’ in society
  • Enhance awareness on the needs of older people and increase support through an intergenerational approach

Activities

  • Group sessions on Yoga, Health Care, Art and Training for Livelihood Generation
  • Visiting services: One-on-one dialogue; excursion walks; meetings and counselling sessions 
  • Maintaining a tracking sheet of each elderly person and update the same on a quarterly basis
  • Providing commodities: Diapers, Walkers, Hearing Aid and others
  • Linkages with the government schemes for health, livelihood, nutrition and pensions
  • Linkages with the public health system for all ailments
  • Monthly excursion visits/ picnics to nearby locations of interest (picnic with a concept decided by the elderly)
  • Organizing health check-up sessions for specific problems like NCDs, Eye-care and Orthopaedic
  • Linkages with the old age homes
  • Advocacy meetings with the officials at all levels
  • Building community volunteers and community support mechanisms
  • provide friendship and companionship

Outcomes

  • Increasing self-confidence and reduced isolation amongst the elderly
  • Improving access to services, programs and schemes
  • Improving awareness on older people’s concerns, challenges and problems

The women love to participate in group activities, they all decide what they want to do in the next session. They talk, laugh and also cry when they get emotional during the discussions, especially when they recall their olden days and cherished moments. They often share that after many years they are enjoying like this, they came up with their demands like wanting to go for a picnic, wanting to dance, wanting to sing, wanting to learn, wanting to do some income generation for themselves. One greatest thing they saw in the team as – they now have listeners! and there is so much they wanted to share!

The men refused to come for weekly sessions. They said – “What the hell – we are not kids!” Then youth volunteers started with data collection and while doing that (each personal session meant about 45 minutes of time they made the men talk about themselves), the men were so delighted, they started saying, for the first time, someone is asking what we like, what we want, otherwise you social workers only want to work for pregnant women, girl child, mother-in-law participation, education for children and all that – nobody asked us ever if we can also participate! And now, THEY have men also participating in group activities.

There is a set of elderly people in the community – which is extremely vulnerable, some are ailing, and some are totally bed-ridden. The team is working with them for getting their check-ups done, for hospitalization which is needed for immediate care, helping them register with old age homes and provision of commodities like adult diapers ad tripod sticks. Our one on one sessions with the elderly is the best ever intervention, as that brings in liveliness, enthusiasm, comfort and feeling of having regular family members visiting them.

Womenlines wants to request readers to help SCHOOL in whatever possible way (financially, volunteer, supporter, partnership) to help them to deliver successful projects, which can be a real help to that section of society which is actually looking forward to a helping hand, to live a better life!

 

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