Geriatric home (illustrative).
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
The State Comptroller’s report on the poor state of geriatric nursing for the elderly elicited strong comments from both the Yad Sarah organization, which lends out medical equipment to help the sick and the elderly remain at home, and from Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, who has been pushing for years to make geriatric nursing insurance available for the elderly.
Yad Sarah called on the government to allocate the necessary resources to enable the elderly to live at home and to ease the burden on their caregivers.
This would be much cheaper than institutionalization, said Yad Sarah director-general Moshe Cohen.
“The number of elderly in Israel has grown from year to year,” he said. “There is an urgent need to concentrate the care of the elderly under one central body and to allocate appropriate resources to treat them. Our basic and moral obligation is to give all that is necessary to the elderly – the state’s founding generation. It is forbidden that the Yom Kippur prayer ‘Do not abandon me in old age’ will remain without a response,” he said.
Yad Sarah lends out, without state aid, about 4,000 “home hospitalization” sets, which include an adjustable electric bed and other equipment. And the demand is rising,” Cohen said. “The Health and Social Services ministries do not allocate the necessary resources to enable many patients to be hospitalized or to recover at home.”
In addition, Yad Sarah operates “Yad Latomech,” a support and counseling service for family members who care for their loved ones at home.
Anat Ben-Zaken, director of the organization’s home and community services division, added that the physical, mental and economic burden can sometimes lead to difficulties.
“Emotional and physical pressures can lead to burnout and illness among caregivers,” she said. “We provide such support, give seminars and lectures, make referrals to services in the community and give guidance on how to take advantage of various rights. We also have a phone hotline for urgent cases,” she said.
Litzman said the document only touches on correct points in the state’s failure to deal with the elderly who are in their homes, and even minimizes the problems in the current situation.
“Because unfortunately the full picture of the failure to care for the elderly in the community through the National Insurance Law is much more serious,” he said.
The minister added that his office “has formulated a comprehensive reform in the field of geriatric nursing, which provides a systemic response to the state’s failure to cope with the crisis and also finds ways to fund necessary reform.
Litzman said: “I have struggled to introduce nursing reform in the coalition agreement and will not abandon the subject until the right and proper reform is implemented – a comprehensive nursing reform that focuses on state long-term care insurance, with a systemic change in the state’s attitude toward Israel’s growing population of elderly.”
Just as they found a “budget for the disabled and funds for the ‘Net Family’ program, it is time to finally solve the worsening nursing crisis,” he said. “I again turn today to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to convene an emergency meeting of the cabinet to immediately approve reform in geriatric nursing and thus to carry out social justice for our loved ones – the tens of thousands of elderly people – the caregivers and their families.”