We are sharing for readers who are seeking the latest facts and information with the approval of the BRS, news recently provided by the British Residents’ Society to their members on 22nd January 2022.
JOINT STATEMENT FROM THE ASSOCIATION OF ELDERLY RIGHTS AND MENTAL HEALTH AND BRS
The foreign elderly community are suffering in silence.
The Association of Elderly Rights and Mental Health has been working since 2018 to raise awareness of the suffering of the elderly community in the TRNC, and to contribute to improving their quality of life.
It is not only the Turkish Cypriot elderly that is suffering due to a lack of regulatory law and social policy for elders. The foreign elderly community are also feeling the detrimental effects of not having access to quality elderly health care.
Language barriers mean they are often suffering in silence. Many who become widowed suddenly find themselves in a vulnerable position, while others find themselves abandoning their dream of living the last years of their lives here because of not being able to find the care they need.
Since December 2021, the Association of Elderly Rights and Mental Health has been liaising with the British Residents Society (BRS), which represents 2,500 expats, in order to understand the issues of the expat elderly community, and plans to reach out to other foreign community groups.
The Association has learned that many elderly foreign residents have no other option than to employ home carers illegally in what has become an unregulated black market. We have also learned that some vulnerable elderly have been turned away from care facilities because they do not speak Turkish. Thus, they face huge private hospital fees for staying in long-term care.
BRS Social Welfare Officer Julian Mawdesley shares vital information about the issues and needs of the foreign elderly community in the TRNC.
“The TRNC has become a diverse country made up of not only Turkish Cypriots, but also a number of other nationalities who have made this beautiful part of the world their home,” said Mr Mawdesley.
“It is currently estimated that there are between 14,000 and 16,000 British expats living in the TRNC. Apart from students, temporary workers and visitors, the majority of non-Cypriots living here are retired non-workers who have chosen to live their remaining days in this climate.
“The current life expectancy for those living in Europe is 78.2 years which means expats living here expect to spend many years in the sunshine. It is noticeable numbers of expats returning to their country of birth towards the end of their life or for medical treatment is reducing, as they wish to spend their last days in the TRNC, and are happy using the treatment available here.
“This then highlights the issue of home care, residential care and end of life care. It would be normal to expect that a family member who is ill or vulnerable would be looked after by their family, however, many expats living here do not have that comfort and therefore seek alternative support.
“As people age, they generally suffer from ageing and mobility problems and require some form of assistance, either through medical aids or professional support. Although in the TRNC, medical aids are easily available, professional home care has been an issue. Expats have had to rely on unregulated, ex-professionals through recommendations.
“Some seeking more long-term support, such as live-in care or a placement in a care home, have been told that this is not possible due to the language barrier and cultural differences. It has to be said that the standard of care homes in the TRNC is lacking EU standards and appears to be a last resort.
“In the EU, community care services are intended to help people who need care and support to live with dignity and independence in their community, and to avoid social isolation. These services are aimed at the elderly and those with mental illnesses, learning disabilities and physical disabilities.”
Recalling the 1991 United Nations Principles for Older Persons of ‘independence’, ‘participation’, ‘care’, ‘self-fulfilment’, and ‘dignity’, the Association of Elderly Rights and Mental Health together with the British Residents Society call for the following:
- The urgent passing of a new care home regulatory law that will set the standards for the care homes and the enforcement of this law,
- Initiating new government policies to support the development of the elderly care sector in the TRNC, with incentives for entrepreneurs to build facilities for elderly care, such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, retirement homes, etc.,
- Provide training opportunities for the elderly caregivers in collaboration with the university geriatric departments,
- Provide access to domestic care via legal, transparent and accessible means so that anyone who is ill, vulnerable or has mobility issues can benefit from qualified carers/nurses, visiting the patient at their home,
- Provide social support for non-Turkish speaking vulnerable elderly as well as multi-lingual staff for care homes,
- Provide access to long term care homes, where vulnerable or terminally ill patients admitted to a care institute are treated with dignity and respect. Care homes need to be accessible, regulated, sustainable, affordable, welcoming and friendly.
Editor’s Note: BRS have an excellent members’ Facebook page which gives information and allows members to ask questions however Facebook is excellent for sharing of information but it is no more than a stream of information and BRS found many questions were being asked time and time again so the BRS team developed BRITBOT on their website where members could retrieve information published on many past subjects.
Readers wishing to learn more of the British Residents’ Society or registration as a member which can be started online please visit their website – https://brstrnc.com or https://brstrnc.com/regform.asp
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