Connecting local responses around the world
When a Ugandan faith leaders’ father passed away, as a ‘natural’ reaction, the family started making claims on the families’ wealth, the farm and the land. The widow of old age had no voice in this process and was almost forced out of the house by her own children. Things changed when the faith leader attended a facilitators’ workshop in his district on care and support to older people. Through a case-study he learned about human rights for older people and he got to appreciate older people as respectable members of society. “That’s when I realized that what we were doing to my mother was wrong. We asked her what she wanted and now we made it possible for her to stay at the farm”.
This story is not merely an anecdote. Positive changes were noticed in Uganda ever since the marriage of the Social Gerontology Manual with the Community Life Competence Process.
The key to this success, according to Facilitator Arthur Namara (Health Nest Uganda): “is the change of the way of working using an innovative approach that stimulates people to realize their strengths where now older persons are not mere recipients of care but rather active participants in addressing their concerns”
The roll out of the process went hand in hand with research supported by the Uganda Medical Research Council Unit on AIDS. From the outset the facilitators in Uganda measured the way both older people and community workers perceived their interactions with each other. . The preliminary results show that there were more interactions between community members, local government workers and older people, the quality of the interactions improved, and attitudes shifted from awaiting government actions to initiating local responses to older people’s issues.
Francien Scholten underlines the important role of research in the community processes: It is encouraging for all (community and developers of the manual) that this feasibility study shows that the training of the new way of working (SALT and CLCP) with and for older people has improved practices and attitudes.
This week 27th January to 31st January 2014 the National Roll-Out workshop on the Social Gerontology Manual (that aims to improve the health and wellbeing of older persons in communities) in Entebbe brings together 50 people from 12 districts and four National Umbrella Organisation. They will be sharing their own experiences with Care and Support for older people and they will be trained in the use of the manual, including the Community Life Competence Process.
The facilitators of the event expect to celebrate an agreement on the National Dream and Action Plan for Care and Support to older people in Uganda at the end of the week!