Preserving the dignity of elderly persons in our community, through better care giving

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The President and CEO of NOUZIO SOCIAL HUMANITY FOUNDATION, Mazi Ottih Nwaka congratulates the stakeholders and members of AROCHUKWU ELDERLY CARE INITIATIVE for organizing the conference with the theme: ENHANCING THE WELL BEING AND CARE OF ELDERLY PERSONS IN AROCHUKWU on December 28, 2019 in Arochukwu.

This topic is highly relevant to NSHF’S fight for the rights and dignity of older persons including those with care needs. 

NSHF members have consistently stated that achieving quality of care, allowing for independent living and protecting the dignity of older people as key challenges facing Nigeria today and also in the near future, given the rapid demographic aging. Undignified care services, insufficient social protection and overburdening of care professionals and informal careers are all too common across Nigeria. This hinders the enjoyment of human rights by older persons with care needs and often leads to neglect, violence and abuse, there is a serious lack of adequate, quality services for older persons with high care needs, including those living with advanced dementia, which has heavy personal consequences on both the older persons and for their relatives.

NSHF calls for an approach to transition towards community-based care that is progressive and tailored to the specific needs of each group. In the case of older persons, most of them wish to stay at home and should be empowered to do so, with enough quality support and integration in their communities to avoid the trap of isolation and loneliness, which is a huge problem among many older persons assessed in Arochukwu. However, if some older persons prefer to live in residential care arrangements like a nursing home, this possibility should be made available to them as well.

 NSHF members who did individual need assessments in Arochukwu on randomly picked elderly persons reported lack of good quality care, abandonment and some cases complete neglect. Many of the elderly persons welcomed the innovation and the quality care that will allow them enjoy some independence and community living.

They also reported widespread rejection of institutional culture in care provision, meaning ignoring personal wishes and needs, segregation, disrespect of rights and independence and neglect.

Older persons are as diverse as other age groups and a wide variety of services to choose from should be available to them.

 The important point is to ensure choice, quality and dignified community-based services, whichever the setting. This is in line with where choice is a central element, and also the report on autonomy and care of the United Nations expert recommendations on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons.

NSHF calls for a Nigerian Structural and Investment Funds to be used to facilitate the shift towards dignified and quality community-based care for older people, especially at home, the most popular option but also in quality person-centered residential care. Ensuring access to such services will place Nigeria as Social Right Country and especially the new right to long-term care. The Nigeria Quality Framework for long-term care services should be developed with the active involvement of older persons, as their input   could be used in this process.

Submitted by:

Mazi Ottih Nwaka, MD and CEO

Nouzio Social Humanity Foundation

About author

Ottih Nwaka

Mazi Ottih Nwaka is a Gerontologist, Social Worker and Mental Health Professional.

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