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80,000 adult Greeks will be left without "Help at Home"

31 March 2011 / 18:03:54  GRReporter
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Marina Nikolova

Currently, about 120,000 adults and people with special needs are benefiting from the services of the "Help at Home" programme, which has been operating for eight years. Its staff, however, announced a 48-hour strike following the new government regulations because the programme will probably be terminated at the end of the year. It has been completely changed and with the new regulations only older people who have unemployed relative will be able to benefit the free services of the programme, said officials.

The "Help at Home" programme in Greece employs around 4000 people who are mainly social workers, nurses, domestic helpers, but also drivers, administrative staff and physiotherapists. Today they gathered on the Athenian square Klavtmonos to protest despite the bad weather and the rain. People from Crete, the island of Lesvos, Epirus, Thessaloniki, Karditsa, Larissa and Athens came to defend their jobs and the elderly they serve. Their main demand is to keep the programme in its present form, the employees to be permanently appointed and integrated in the social services to the municipalities, within the frameworks of the new administration plan "Kalikratis," said for Grreporter the chairwoman of the union of employees in the "Help at Home" programme for the Attica region Sofia Kolizera.

Their concerns are that around 1000 people will stay at work, which will serve about 33,000 elderly and the remaining 80 000 will be left to their fate without being able to be sent to homes for the elderly, because there are not many of them . Since 2002 the programme has been financed by EU funds amounting to 75% of the cost and the remaining 25% have been covered by the municipalities. The programme had to be entirely included in the municipal budgets two years later and incorporated into the structure of their services but it did not happen," said Maria Leka from Parga, who is also worried that "after ten years of work for this programme they will throw us out." The programme is within the competences of three ministries - the Ministry of Employment, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of the Interior, which will have to decide its future.

"The employees in Attica are about 400. All services are related to primary healthcare. Now, all single adults who have not unemployed relatives will not be included in the programme. Thus, the nature of this structure in social care is lost and unemployment is financed. There is also another issue of concern, namely that the employees in the programme were not paid for several months," said Sofia Kolizera.

Nikos Skantzaras from the Union in Central Macedonia:

Today, we all who are working for the "Help at Home" programme from all over Greece - Athens, Thessaloniki, Crete, the island of Lesvos, Larissa, Karditsa and the Epirus Region, gathered to ask the government to keep the programme. At present, the measures taken destroy the "Help at Home" programme. The nature and the character of the programme have changed completely. So many years we have been serving mainly single or elderly people whose children are living far away for various reasons. And we will have to serve only elderly or people with special needs who have someone unemployed in their families from now on. So, there is the paradox - if there are two neighbouring houses and an adult with an unemployed child lives in one of them and a lone adult lives in the other, we will help only the one who has an unemployed person at home. Many programmes will stop working because the required number of unemployed will not be found. Moreover, this measure will be valid for six months and it will be changed again at the end of the year. We have developed these programmes from scratch eight years ago when we started.

We were not paid for months sometimes and we worked on temporary contracts for all those years although we have passed a competition and we cover jobs which are always needed. We are on the streets all day long, running to hospitals and institutions, taking care for all health and administrative issues that concern the people we take care of. We go to the market; we cook, clean and do everything an adult would need to be able to remain at home. Otherwise, most of them would go to nursing homes, but such are no available. Only 5 out of 50 people have an unemployed relative to be able to enter the programme but it will not survive because no money will be granted only for five people. Our demand is that these programmes will become permanent in the municipalities and their employees to obtain a permanent full-time job.


Tags: NewsSocietyElderlyHelp at HomePeople with special needsSocial assistants
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