Research demonstrates positive changes in care and support to older people in Uganda

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!

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Comment by Tianfang Liu on August 1, 2014 at 5:57am

Dear Marlou, thank you for your reply.

It's my great honour to follow if you and your team don't mind.

Expect to enjoy much more work of you.

Best wishes,


Comment by Marlou on July 30, 2014 at 11:07am

Dear Autry,

Yes - opportunities for follow up are seized. The Uganda team made SALT visits in each district recently. They Stimulated by their presence, Appreciated Progress made towards the work plan (second self assessments done and action plans adapted in most district), Linked new facilitators with local government and other stakeholders and started transferring learning from one district to the next. Of course this again is a step - but an important one. Now questions of scale are naturally coming up. Here are some quotes from what I heard from the team when they came back from their round of SALT visits: 

What are we proud of?
- I feel more Ugandan (response is now in far away districts)
- Easy to connect and compare experiences
- Older persons are active!
- When defining actions older people now talk as 'we' and not as 'they'
- Linking up to other programmes, depending on the needs
- I learned personally as a facilitator which helps me to improve my daily work
- Intergenerational linkages started
What can we strengthen?
 - Some districts go very fast, other lag behind. How can all come on same page?
- Strengthen the inclusion of local government so they can work in line with communities.
- Mentor some new trainers on Easy Care Tool and CLCP, a revisit needed?
- We addressed various actors - this rekindled interest. We need to revisit.
- How can we get other districts in?
- Older people are frail: how can we get other partners in as well. 
- More to be done to engage youth in the intergenerational response
- Consolidate the success in the twelve districts for learning and sharing
- Encourage spontaneous connections between districts
- Exchange of good practices between the districts: how can that be done
- Physical exchange visits between districts
Comment by Marlou on July 30, 2014 at 11:01am

Dear Tianfang Liu, thanks for your interest! I am sure same approach can be adapted to Chinese context as well. If you want I can link you up with some team members and we can explain you in a conversation how Ageing in Dignity applied - and provide you with relevant further reading. Best wishes, Marlou

Comment by Tianfang Liu on July 30, 2014 at 6:34am

We, Chinese, also face these challenges. What's worse, some extreme behaviours might possibly happen on this issue. The approach you offer is enormously innovative,  but I wonder how did you deal with this issue. Are there any details available for readers to follow?

Comment by Autry Haynes on February 9, 2014 at 4:25pm

Dear Marlou, thanks for sharing this experience. As I read the experience I am smiling and can also see and feel the eager expressions of the participants (^_^). I am sure we all shared this experience over and over. Every time we do so it is a renewed and energizing experience. It brings a sense of appreciation and satisfaction for what we do and how effective the approach is.

Participants always leave these experiences 'hyped' up. I looked forward to the outputs from the experience which will indicate the impact. I trust that there are opportunities for follow-up. Participants sometimes need the stimulant especially in the short as they internalize SALT in their system before it becomes a part of 'how they do things'. There might be some impediments to the strengths they have as they apply the process within their local environment. Kudos to the TEAM: To Each A Member.  

Comment by Marlou on February 2, 2014 at 3:04pm

Thanks Namara Arthur Araali for the posting.

I loved this week in Uganda where I energised myself with the energy and positive attitude of many older people among the participants - as well as young people who are committed to an intergenerational approach. And of course this facilitation team has all the energy to thrive! Make way for Uganda Competence!!

In one week time participants developed a dream, the practices and 6 months work plans per district towards the dream. The team will submit the self-assessment framework as well via Ning. Pictures and video's will follow as well. It was hard work, but the participants among whom over 80 years old didnot want to stop the conversations and we had to postpone the formal closing with half a day. Among the closing remarks, an 80 year old: "Now my eyes are opened - when I will go back home I will see things I have not seen before".

Do other members of the Constellation think there is energy for Ageing in Dignity Competence in other countries as well???


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