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Spotlight Ageing and Health

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Europe and Central Asia have the oldest populations in the world. During the next decade, there will be significant changes to demographics globally. The population of individuals aged 65 or older is expected to increase from approximately 524 million in 2010 to almost 1.5 billion in 2050, primarily in low- and middle-income nations.

Overview

Ageing and Health is one of the seven thematic priorities in health, in which the Swiss Red Cross (SRC) supports its Sister National Societies. With its domestic and international expertise, SRC is recognized as a leading National Society in the topic of Ageing and Health within the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. 

In 2022, the Swiss Red Cross supported partners in Armenia, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Nepal, North Macedonia, Vietnam, and Ukraine in their endeavours to improve the integration of older people in society, to increase access to quality integrated home-care services and to provide psycho-social support to older people. The SRC specifically contributed to increasing the sustainability of home-based care services by supporting the national partners in cost calculations, resource mobilisation, lobbying, and advocacy for multi-funding approaches, consequently empowering older people to shape age-friendly communities. Tapping into the SRC domestic expertise, the Red Cross of North Macedonia received technical support to build up an emergency button service and transportation services. In Vietnam, technical expertise was provided to receive their training curricula for home helpers.  

Key cumulative data 2022

The different Ageing and Health projects supported by the Swiss Red Cross provided quality home-based care to over 4'316 older people and people with disabilities. Since last year, the number of older people benefiting from home-based care has increased by 122%. In 2022, 772 professionals, 576 RCRC staff, and 905 volunteers were trained by SRC. Older people actively engage in 212 initiative groups or self-help groups in different countries. 10473 older people benefitted from active ageing activities.

Learn more about our impact on healthOpens a new window.

0persons receiving home-based care

This signifies the number of persons who have received home-based care services through multiple home visits.

0initiative groups

This signifies the number of initiative groups/active ageing groups which are established by older people and arrange and provide different social, recreational and advocacy activities in their local communities.

0persons trained

This signifies the number of professionals, staff and volunteers trained to provide home-based care services and support active ageing.

0persons reached with active ageing activities

This signifies the number of older people reached through the different active ageing activities.

Our Programme Countries

World map.The Swiss Red Cross project countries are highlighted in red. Here is the full list: Armenia, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Nepal, North Macedonia, Ukraine.

Results 2022

The examples represent snapshots of our work in the different intervention countries and highlight some of the specific output results of the year. The impact of the different country programmes in aging and health are highlighted in the Programme Domain HealthOpens a new window.

Supporting home-based care and active ageing programming in Ukraine

Since 2017 the Swiss Red Cross has supported the Ukraine Red Cross Society (URCS) in reforming and expanding its home-based care program. Up to 2021, most of the support was provided remotely and through national partner societies and SRC delegations. The conflict escalation in 2022 has drastically increased the demand for support to vulnerable older people in Ukraine. Older people are affected particularly heavily by the widespread fleeing of younger people, leaving behind their older relatives without family care or support, resulting in isolation and depression.

The SRC has therefore expanded its technical and strategic cooperation over the past years and supports the URCS at the national level with a focus on Home-Based Care (HBC) and Active Aging (AA). A SRC deployed delegate supports URCS in establishing a multifunctional framework of HBC services that allow social services to integrate with psychosocial support and medical care, obtain medical licenses, involve volunteers, and mobilise local communities. Furthermore, SRC supported the URCS counterparts in developing a HBC Strategy 2023-2025, a HBC sector-management model, elaborated minimum quality standards for HBC services and an HBC needs-assessment methodology and developed a concept paper to start Active Ageing initiatives from 2023 onwards.

In 2022, 73 social helpers of the URCS branches in Ivano-Frankivsk and Ternopil in western Ukraine provided HBC assistance to 594 individuals (437 females and 157 males). Beneficiaries included older persons living alone, older persons whose caregiving relatives were forced to leave their residence due to hostilities or because they were serving in the armed forces, and people living with disabilities and their families. Additionally, 33 social workers providing HBC were trained. While this quantitative upscaling worked relatively smoothly and was a priority of the partners and the population, a challenge for SRC lies in getting sufficient attention from the URCS leadership level to improve the quality and sustainability of the services.

Ukraine: Key data 2022

0persons receiving home-based care

This signifies the number of persons who have received home-based care services through multiple home visits.

0initiative groups

This signifies the number of initiative groups/active ageing groups which are established by older people and arrange and provide different social, recreational and advocacy activities in their local communities.

High-quality integrated care at home in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Many elderly individuals and individuals with disabilities in Bosnia and Herzegovina face challenges in obtaining essential healthcare and social services. However, in collaboration with ten municipalities and cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the SRC are working together to offer home care services to address these health and social care issues.

In 2022, over 1150 people were cared for in their homes by nursing staff and trained volunteers. Over 60% of clients are bedridden or severely restricted in their mobility. Quality care enables people to continue living at home longer. The Red Cross provides individual care, personal hygiene, social support, help at home, and medical care. The people who receive care, the local authorities, and the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina all consider this project extremely valuable. In 2022, 99% of people who received home care reported being fully satisfied with the services. The SRC supports a national strategy development to extend the services to other regions throughout the country.

The SRC has aimed to build a sustainable and affordable integrated home care model since 2013. From the start, local authorities are vital stakeholders: The local authority co-finances the services in every project location. Starting with 20%, the local contributions gradually increase as SRC contributions decrease. SRC has observed through experience that national funding adequately sustains services once they have received eight years of support. In 2022, the local administration contribution and client fees covered 100% of the cost in Tuzla City (partnership started in 2013), 88% in Lukavac, and 7579 % in Doboj, Šamac, and Živinice (partnership began in 2014 and 2018). In the most recently started districts of Brčko District, Foča, Kalesija, Prnjavor, and Žepče (partnership began in 2021), the contribution amounts to 20-30%.

These local contributions allow an exemption system for the most vulnerable older people. Every fifth person receives free-of-charge care at home. Volunteers supported the care work while the project engaged with 65 active-ageing self-help groups in over 130 age-friendly advocacy initiatives to ensure age-friendly policies and care for all. An additional 8200 people took part in healthy ageing initiatives.

Bosnia-Herzegovina: Key data 2022

0persons receiving home-based care

This signifies the number of persons who have received home- based care services through multiple home visits.

0initiative groups

This signifies the number of initiative groups/active ageing groups which are established by older people and arrange and provide different social, recreational and advocacy activities in their local communities.

0members

This signifies the number of persons, who are members and actively involved in the initiative groups/active ageing groups.

Sustainability of Home-Based Care in Belarus

For more than a decade, the Swiss Red Cross (SRC) has been supporting the Belarusian Red Cross (BRC) Medico-social Service “Dapamoha” in professionalising integrated Home-Based Care (HBC) to lonely and living alone older people with multiple morbidities and decreased functional ability. In 2022, 1175 beneficiaries in 71 regions of Belarus received quality care, including 32% older people with severe limitations on mobility and self-care.

While almost 80% of HBC provided by the Belarus Red Cross are funded from domestic sources, the coverage remains extremely limited compared to the growing need. Thus, the financial sustainability of the Service became the main focus of the BRC/SRC partnership.

Diversifying funding through in-country fundraising and creating sustainable partnerships has gained momentum in 2022. Firstly, State Social Contracting, initiated by the Belarus Red Cross in 2013, has been further promoted. Despite the difficult social-economic situation in the country, the state covered 23% of the service’s cost. Secondly, membership fees and sponsorships increased to 49.3% as information campaigns were intensified and remained the primary source of HBC funding. Thirdly, a system of professional private sources for in-country fundraising has been developing for the last three years, covering 7% of the HBC costs for the first time. Domestic source funding increased from 39% in 2021 to 79.3% in 2022.

The Belarus Red Cross's ability to sustain its HBC (Home-Based Care) program is significantly strengthened by its recognition by the government as a professional service provider. By actively participating in the implementation of the State Programme "Population Health and Demographic Security" for 2021-2025, the National Strategy "Active Longevity - 2030," and the legislative framework for Social State Contracting in the state health and social care systems, the Belarus Red Cross makes a direct and valuable contribution.

Next to sustainability, the teamwork model of service provision was introduced in 2022. The model increases the quality of care, effectiveness, and efficiency by better coordinating the work of medical nurses, junior nurses (home helpers), and trained volunteers. 22% of the beneficiaries were cared for by these teams in 2022.

Belarus: Key data 2022

0persons receiving home-based care

This signifies the number of persons who have received home-based care services through multiple home visits.

0initiative groups

This signifies the number of initiative groups/active ageing groups which are established by older people and arrange and provide different social, recreational and advocacy activities in their local communities.

0members

This signifies the number of persons, who are members and actively involved in the initiative groups/active ageing groups.

Active Ageing through the Support of Initiative Groups in Armenia

Since 2016, the Swiss Red Cross, in partnership with the Armenian Red Cross Society (ARCS), has been supporting the establishment of Initiative Groups in three regions of Armenia: Lori, Shirak, and Vayats Dzor. As of 2022, 31 Initiative Groups with 400 members (240 female, 160 male) were active. These groups have become very popular; since their establishment, the groups have seen an increase in membership by 50%. 86% of the members are engaged in regular social activities.

The Initiative Groups provide older people and people with disabilities with the opportunity to be socially active and to request an age-friendly environment in their communities. The groups are engaged in cultural, educational, health, and agricultural activities, which are financially supported through mini-grants, allowing the groups to buy seedlings, sports, or sewing equipment, to name a few. All groups organise their meetings with great enthusiasm, and participation in these groups adds variety to the daily life of older people, helping them to better cope with problems and reduce loneliness and isolation. 

Within the framework of the project, the Active Ageing group members enhance their knowledge of how to respond to and recover from disasters or emergencies. Group members have been trained in First Aid and participated in disaster response simulation exercises organised by the Armenian Red Cross Society. 

Armenia: Key data 2022 

0persons receiving home-based care

This signifies the number of persons who have received home-based care services through multiple home visits.

0initiative groups

This signifies the number of initiative groups/active ageing groups which are established by older people and arrange and provide different social, recreational and advocacy activities in their local communities.

0members

This signifies the number of persons, who are members and actively involved in the initiative groups/active ageing groups.

The Active Ageing Group in Vanadzor, Lori Region, enjoys rehearsing and performing traditional dances.​

Promoting Active Ageing in Kyrgyzstan through Initiative Groups

Since 2014, the Swiss Red Cross and the Red Crescent Society of Kyrgyzstan (RCSK) have promoted active ageing and supported over 30000 older people in Kyrgyzstan. The National Societies enable older people’s active participation in community life and inspire healthy and dignified ageing through so-called “initiative groups” (elderly clubs and self-help groups) and their activities across the country. These groups are platforms for older people to engage in solving their problems, empowering peer support, and facilitating opportunities for improving older people’s position through increased participation and professional development.

In 2022, the Active and Dignified Ageing project in Kyrgyzstan facilitated the establishment of new elderly clubs in additional regions of the country – Talas and Batken provinces – further promoting healthy ageing among the population. Currently, there are ten elderly clubs active throughout Kyrgyzstan. Furthermore, 57 self-help groups continued their activities, forming several new initiative groups (IGs) in the second half of 2022. Sixty-seven initiative groups are currently functional, with the participation of 583 older people in IGs activities. In 2022, the IGs organised a wide range of activities based on the group members’ interests and needs, including those promoting physical activities and active lifestyle (regular Scandinavian walks, yoga, dance classes, other fitness exercises), those building up various skills (language classes – English, Kyrgyz; navigating and using smartphones and frequently-used apps), those promoting team building and socialisation (day trips together to sites-of-interest, enjoying nature and picnics, visiting a gallery, an opera theatre), and other activities.

According to the feedback of the initiative groups, 80% of their members mention that these activities have helped them to build up and increase a sense of belonging, well-being, and unity. Five hundred ninety-eight volunteers have supported the project, including silver volunteers, where older people volunteer and help others in their local community.

Kyrgyzstan: Key data 2022

0persons receiving services

This signifies the number of persons who have received short-term assistance and home-based care services.

0initiative groups

This signifies the number of initiative groups/active ageing groups which are established by older people and arrange and provide different social, recreational and advocacy activities in their local communities.

0members

This signifies the number of persons, who are members and actively involved in the initiative groups/active ageing groups.

Increasing access to age-friendly communities in Moldova

Since 2017 the Swiss Red Cross has supported CASMED, a local NGO, building up age-friendly communities in Moldova. In collaboration with local public authorities and the population (old and young people), an assessment of the age-friendliness of local communities done based on the World Health Organisation Age-Friendly City Guideline. Based on the results, steering committees with representatives of local public authorities, business owners, local NGOs and older people co-developed age-friendly strategies and action plans to adapt the community services and physical structures to be more inclusive and responsive to the needs of its population and to improve their quality of life as the people age. These age-friendly communities encourage healthy ageing by optimising resources to improve older people's health, safety, and inclusion. In 2022 one new age-friendly community was created. By the end of 2022, 62750 people lived in 35 age-friendly communities.

To assist in carrying out the age-friendly action plans, the project offers matching grants through a tender process. In 2022, ten grants were awarded. According to the terms of the proposal, the project contributed 2,600 CHF, while the local public authorities provided 4,200 CHF. The proposed actions entail constructing sidewalks to facilitate the elderly's access to public institutions, such as churches, and placing benches and waste bins for their convenience. Furthermore, waiting stations and bus stops will be erected in public areas, and parks will be enhanced to enable older individuals to engage in sports and other outdoor activities. As a result of the local initiatives, people realised that both young and old benefit when communities improve the safety and attractiveness of pedestrian walkways or make parks safer and more physically attractive and found an age-friendly environment is a better place to live for everyone!

Moldova: Key data 2022

0persons receiving home-based care

This signifies the number of persons who have received home-based care services through multiple home visits.

0initiative groups

This signifies the number of initiative groups/active ageing groups which are established by older people and arrange and provide different social, recreational and advocacy activities in their local communities.

0members

This signifies the number of persons, who are members and actively involved in the initiative groups/active ageing groups.

Expanding Ageing and Health projects beyond Europe and Central Asia

Population ageing is a defining global trend of our time. People are living longer, and more are older than ever before. Spectacular improvements in health and survival and reductions in fertility have driven this momentous shift, which has begun in all SRC program countries. This change brings both challenges and opportunities. The Swiss Red Cross (SRC) has experience providing services for older people in Switzerland and abroad. Since 2021 the SRC has started to enlarge Ageing and Health projects supporting Sister National Societies outside of Europe and Central Asia with seed funds to create initiatives for older people. Sister National Societies can apply for projects with a budget of up to CHF 20000 and technical expertise. 

Pilot project in Nepal

In Nepal, the Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS) used the seed funds to assess the needs of older people in the Bhaktapur region, internal mapping on NRCS projects concerning older people and a pilot project in the Bhaktapur region. Based on the data and supported by the SRC expert, the NRCS developed their Healthy Ageing Guidelines and, in collaboration with the Nursing Division, the curricula for trainers in healthy ageing. In 2022, 26 Red Cross volunteers were trained in healthy ageing. The pilot project in Bhaktapur organised a geriatric health camp screening older people for health issues; six volunteers started to provide home support to older people, and the local Red Cross branch in Bhakatpur initiated a club for older people.  

Training curricula for home-care staff in Vietnam

The project’s goal was to support the Vietnam Red Cross (VNRC) in developing a community care model for older people by supporting the revision of their training curriculum for professional home-care nurses and care staff training.  Tapping into the SRC expertise, several technical meetings, and exchanges with one SRC domestic expert and experts from the Red Crescent Society of Kyrgyzstan were organised. During the meetings, the VNRC realised that a volunteer-based home-care model would be more applicable. Thus, part of the funding was used to translate the IFRC home-care curricula in Vietnamese. In 2023the first volunteers will be trained.  

Outlook

The SRC will continue its engagement in Ageing and Health in the following years, making an essential contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals and the United Nations Decade of Ageing 2021-2030. The SRC will improve the lives of older people, their families, and the communities in which they live by creating age-friendly environments, providing integrated long-term care at home, and building up evidence through research. Strengthening the integration of older people in society, maximising their potential, and promoting intergenerational exchange to combat ageism will remain in focus.

The SRC recognises the close links between Ageing and Health and other health priorities of the SRC, such as eye health and non-communicable diseases. In the coming years, the SRC will advocate for and support partners in implementing healthy ageing projects and embark on opportunities to scale up and scale out successful approaches in the existing and new countries of intervention, particularly beyond Europe.

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