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GEORGIAN ELDERLY MAY HAVE TO WAIT FOR SHELTER

Ilia Kekishvili, 80, has been living with his wife for the last three years in a flat on the third floor of the Savane Elderly Shelter in Tbilisi. There is only room for two beds, two chairs and one little table. There’s a long hallway from the elevator to their door. There is no sound. Even when wearing a warm jacket, it feels cold, because the central heating is not working.

Kekishvili leads us into this flat. The walls smell like they are soaked in tobacco, medicine and soap. To the left a door is partly open. Kekishvili’s wife is washing clothes by hand. No warm water is coming from the taps.

“I was an owner of a #41 marshutka (mini-bus) line,” he says. “Three years ago, Tbilisi City Hall changed some regulations and I lost my job. At that time, my wife and I were living in a rented flat. I have two sons, but both of them had small flats, so it was impossible to live with them. So I asked Tbilisi City Hall for a flat.” 

According to Kekishvili, one evening he received a call and was told that he was being given a flat. But he says he and his wife were instead taken to the Elderly Shelter. He said he didn’t have any idea what was happening. 

Ilia Kekishvili

 


 

Photo courtesy of Ministry of Health  

This is not the ordinary way a resident moves into the shelter. Since 2010, the Social Services Agency under the Ministry of Health has been responsible for coordinating the placement of people in the shelter. After several steps including giving all necessary documents to the Agency, an applicant goes on a waiting list. A flat usually only open up when someone dies, or very rarely, if a son or daughter takes a parent home to live with them. “Today there are 92 residents,” says shelter director Darejan Tomadze. “I think the capacity should be only 70 people, as it was in Soviet times, because that’s all the building facilities can really handle. 

“But the demand to live here is high. There are more than 200 people on the waiting list.” According to Tomadze, preference is given to people who are currently in vulnerable living conditions, even if they are not at the top of the waiting list. 

As Tomadze says, Government pays 600 lari for a person in a month to the shelter and then the administration distributes it as it’s needed.

“I’m thankful for our director,” Kekishvili says. “Here I am not paying for water or electricity. Some people were on the waiting list for 3-5 years.” 

“There are some situations where they don’t have any medicine here. The director goes out and buys it with her own money.” 

There are two elder shelters in Georgia. The other one is located in Kutaisi. 

Giorgi Kakachia, head of the Social Department in the Ministry of Health, said that the government pays 16 lari a day per person. That would only be about 480 lari a month, not 600. He says there is an electrical system that provides some warm water in the Tbilisi building. 

“We have some priorities. We managed the deinstitutionalization of children,” Kakachia said. “We have the same plan for elderly. Institutions shouldn’t have 100-200 people. We are oriented toward private-type homes with 20-25 people. Because these people need social integration, not just care.” 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of people between the ages of 80 and 90 will increase four times from 2000 to 2050 and reach 395 million. 

Giorgi Tsuladze, demographer and professor at Ilia State University, explains that according to the United Nations scale, a nation is considered “old aged” if more than seven percent of the population is age 65 or older. “Experts estimate at this moment it’s about 15 percent (in Georgia), but according to the official statistical information, it is 14 percent. Taking into the account the decreasing birth rate, we predict it will be 20 percent by 2050.” 

It means that the official data forwarded by the National Statistics Office of Georgia will change radically.

 


 

The increased number of elderly people means that the demand for specific health care services will increase significantly. 

Some services for elderly people are supported by the Georgian government. Other services are provided by non-governmental organizations. The Coalition Home Care in Georgia is one of the organizations that support, totally 6, day centers and also elderly clubs. It offers home care service to beneficiaries also. 

According to the official data of the Coalition, 85% of its come care beneficiaries are elderly, and the rest 15% includes people with special needs. Services are requiring payment. But it’s possible to gain some finances. This depends on the rating points at the database of socially vulnerable families. 

Ucha Vakhanaia, executive director of Coalition Homecare in Georgia, speaks about the problematic situation according to the elderly. 

“An old person is a human as well, we must recognize it. As for elderly caring, it’s a paradoxical situation. As the need for elderly caring is very high but there is not a requirement. People don’t know that there is a way to solve their problem.” 

Head of the Coalition named two main strategies for improving the quality of life for the elderly. He offers to think the appropriate public role and  cheap and effective programs to them.

 Photos By: Tiko Gadelia

Ilia Kekishvili, 80, has been living with his wife for the last three years in a flat on the third floor of the Savane Elderly Shelter in Tbilisi. There is only room for two beds, two chairs and one little table. There’s a long hallway from the elevator to their door. There is no sound. Even when wearing a warm jacket, it feels cold, because the central heating is not working.

Kekishvili leads us into this flat. The walls smell like they are soaked in tobacco, medicine and soap. To the left a door is partly open. Kekishvili’s wife is washing clothes by hand. No warm water is coming from the taps.

“I was an owner of a #41 marshutka (mini-bus) line,” he says. “Three years ago, Tbilisi City Hall changed some regulations and I lost my job. At that time, my wife and I were living in a rented flat. I have two sons, but both of them had small flats, so it was impossible to live with them. So I asked Tbilisi City Hall for a flat.” 

According to Kekishvili, one evening he received a call and was told that he was being given a flat. But he says he and his wife were instead taken to the Elderly Shelter. He said he didn’t have any idea what was happening. 

Ilia Kekishvili

 


 

Photo courtesy of Ministry of Health  

This is not the ordinary way a resident moves into the shelter. Since 2010, the Social Services Agency under the Ministry of Health has been responsible for coordinating the placement of people in the shelter. After several steps including giving all necessary documents to the Agency, an applicant goes on a waiting list. A flat usually only open up when someone dies, or very rarely, if a son or daughter takes a parent home to live with them. “Today there are 92 residents,” says shelter director Darejan Tomadze. “I think the capacity should be only 70 people, as it was in Soviet times, because that’s all the building facilities can really handle. 

“But the demand to live here is high. There are more than 200 people on the waiting list.” According to Tomadze, preference is given to people who are currently in vulnerable living conditions, even if they are not at the top of the waiting list. 

As Tomadze says, Government pays 600 lari for a person in a month to the shelter and then the administration distributes it as it’s needed.

“I’m thankful for our director,” Kekishvili says. “Here I am not paying for water or electricity. Some people were on the waiting list for 3-5 years.” 

“There are some situations where they don’t have any medicine here. The director goes out and buys it with her own money.” 

There are two elder shelters in Georgia. The other one is located in Kutaisi. 

Giorgi Kakachia, head of the Social Department in the Ministry of Health, said that the government pays 16 lari a day per person. That would only be about 480 lari a month, not 600. He says there is an electrical system that provides some warm water in the Tbilisi building. 

“We have some priorities. We managed the deinstitutionalization of children,” Kakachia said. “We have the same plan for elderly. Institutions shouldn’t have 100-200 people. We are oriented toward private-type homes with 20-25 people. Because these people need social integration, not just care.” 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of people between the ages of 80 and 90 will increase four times from 2000 to 2050 and reach 395 million. 

Giorgi Tsuladze, demographer and professor at Ilia State University, explains that according to the United Nations scale, a nation is considered “old aged” if more than seven percent of the population is age 65 or older. “Experts estimate at this moment it’s about 15 percent (in Georgia), but according to the official statistical information, it is 14 percent. Taking into the account the decreasing birth rate, we predict it will be 20 percent by 2050.” 

It means that the official data forwarded by the National Statistics Office of Georgia will change radically.

 


 

The increased number of elderly people means that the demand for specific health care services will increase significantly. 

Some services for elderly people are supported by the Georgian government. Other services are provided by non-governmental organizations. The Coalition Home Care in Georgia is one of the organizations that support, totally 6, day centers and also elderly clubs. It offers home care service to beneficiaries also. 

According to the official data of the Coalition, 85% of its come care beneficiaries are elderly, and the rest 15% includes people with special needs. Services are requiring payment. But it’s possible to gain some finances. This depends on the rating points at the database of socially vulnerable families. 

Ucha Vakhanaia, executive director of Coalition Homecare in Georgia, speaks about the problematic situation according to the elderly. 

“An old person is a human as well, we must recognize it. As for elderly caring, it’s a paradoxical situation. As the need for elderly caring is very high but there is not a requirement. People don’t know that there is a way to solve their problem.” 

Head of the Coalition named two main strategies for improving the quality of life for the elderly. He offers to think the appropriate public role and  cheap and effective programs to them.

 Photos By: Tiko Gadelia

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