Social services need reforms, says Horiko: Robots will take care of pensioners

What do you see as a director?
Either we need to strengthen the capacity of services or shift the burden of care to families, which have a number of disadvantages and economic and social impacts. It is true that seventy to eighty percent of older adults receive care from loved ones. However, if the state does not strengthen social services, many people of pre-retirement age will have to leave work in order to manage daycare at all. Therefore, the best model is when the elderly stay at home, the caregiver helps them, and the family can sometimes put them in a temporary service or day care home. At the time when this is no longer possible, because the elderly suffers from dementia, for example, residential care is often the way out.

Seniors and Finance - Image Illustration

Obvious: financial assistance to pensioners. What will they get from the state this year?

Often private entities run homes where people find refuge in old age. Do they replace the state?
The private sector is playing an increasingly important role in long-term care services, not only in the Czech Republic. It also clearly grows in France, Belgium or Finland, for example. This is mainly due to the fact that it responds more quickly to the request. When he sees that there is a need to build fifty or eighty beds for people with dementia, he acquires land and builds the facility in two or three years and starts operating it. In contrast, in the public sector, it takes ten to fifteen years to build a house.

On the other hand, people in private facilities pay more for services.
The disadvantage, of course, is that the private sector wants to pay for the investment, and payments there are more expensive. On the other hand, it often also offers various above-average services. It is also true that the private sector is concentrated in places where there is demand. That is, in the most densely populated places, namely Prague and its environs, Central Bohemia and large cities. But people also need social services in small towns. So a suitable combination of private and government homes is ideal.

Jerry Horiko, President of the Association of Social Service ProvidersJerry Horiko, President of the Association of Social Service ProvidersSource: Profimedia

What solutions are being offered in small towns today?
This is the role of regions, cities and municipalities. Although, of course, not every municipality can build and manage its own house. It is important that their initial network is available at least in former county towns or municipalities with extended reach. At the same time, the state should have the ambition to ensure that when someone needs a caregiver, they may have to wait a while, but eventually get that service. Field social services are often a prerequisite for older adults to be able to stay home for as long as possible.

Is the situation improving?
yes. Thanks to European funds, new capacities will be created in the next five years, which are still mainly built by the private sector. On the other hand, the number of people who need support and care is constantly increasing.

Complete the challenge to the governments of the world with your fellow foreigners. What does a reference to?
Alarms are sounding everywhere about the future provision of social services to the elderly population. Even in Africa, where people used to not live in such a wonderful age. We therefore appeal to governments to prepare a reform or long-term strategy for care as soon as possible. It will become more expensive and more complex every year. We also point out that in many cases the problem is not so much a lack of financial resources as a lack of staff.

Seniors over the age of 65 who live alone are the second group most likely to struggle to make ends meet

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Can robots help care for the elderly?
In October, we will present the first Pepper robot in the Czech Republic, which is already helping out in about two dozen homes in Germany. It’s not meant to administer medication or put people in, it’s a social robot that talks to them, trains their memory, or shows them how to exercise. It recognizes people and is also used in group activities. It does not replace the caregiver, but helps in revitalization.

Isn’t this a certain kind of depersonalization?
So far, customers are happy with it. It is viewed favorably especially by people with dementia. He can foreplay, he is not tired. He will greet you by name, ask questions, talk to you, etc. But of course this is a generation related thing. If someone had never seen a robot in their life before, they would probably say they wouldn’t let a tin box touch them. However, if it comes to generations who have met robots, for example, at school, in hotels or a supermarket, you will not find them strange even in old age. So of course it will be in the future.

Jerry Horiko
• 44 years
• President of the Association of Social Service Providers
• President of the Federation of Employers’ Trade Unions of the Czech Republic
• Head of the Global Network on Aging
President of the European Association of European Elderly Network
• Founder and President of the Alliance for Telemedicine and Digitization of Healthcare and Social Services
• Winner of the 2007 Person of the Year award in Social Services

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