SOCIAL DISTANCING ≠ SOCIAL ISOLATION – Bridging the Distance for Elders through Relevant Interventions
From 24 March to 22 July 2020, the first COVID-19 lockdown in Nepal was put into effect by the government with rising concerns about physical and mental health of everyone. With the growth in cases after reopening, the second round of lockdown was imposed from 20 August 2020.
Physical or social distancing was one of the main preventive measures against coronavirus suggested by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The start of the pandemic led to the risks of older adults being socially isolated due to social distancing.
More than one-third of adults aged 45 and older feel lonely, and nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated. Older adults are at increased risk for loneliness and social isolation because they are more likely to face factors such as living alone, the loss of family or friends, chronic illness, and hearing loss (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2020).
During the lockdown in Nepal, as per analysis of data from Ageing Nepal, elder abuse cases increased by more than three fold, with neglect or unidentified dead bodies found contributing the maximum.
INTERVENTIONS IMPLEMENTED BY BIHANI
Bihani’s established programming and network of older adult members, young adult team, care home staff and residents has helped us initiate tailored efforts to bridge the distance for elders using relevant interventions. Our objective is to make sure that no elder is left behind, abused, or feels isolated due to the pandemic or as the result of other social conditions.
The following interventions have supported us in successfully implementing strategies targeted towards health and overall well-being especially, during the pandemic:
MAINTAINING REGULAR SOCIAL CONTACT through phone calls and social media as Social Distancing does not mean Social Isolation
- Regularly communicating with elders, members and the team of our social impact partners through phone calls and social media applications to make sure they do not feel lonely and isolated along with making sure they or their caregivers/ family members are not vulnerable to abuse
- Involvement of our team and in-house counselors to provide Psycho Social Support, Psychological First Aid (PFA) and Para-Professional Counselling (PPC) through phone calls and messages
- Access to psychologists and relevant medical professionals for our team and anyone in need to ensure the right approach and intervention
MUTUAL AID SUPPORT – providing essentials, medication and food items
- Through collaborations with various individuals and organisations we have been able to support our Wrinkles & Smiles social impact partners by providing essential items and medication to residents of the aged care homes
- Essential items including medication have also been provided to elderly inmates in the prisons; an especially high-risk population
- We introduced new services and benefits to assist our members and elders by providing support with grocery shopping, paying bills for water, electricity, internet, TV, Telephone and other utilities, running errands for supplies and medications as well as picking up and dropping off supplies or as per their need
Thanks to the support provided by “Forum of former International Professionals of Multilateral Organizations in Nepal” (https://fipmo-nepal.org/), we were able to support the Residents at Bihani Social Venture‘s social impact partners- Matatirtha Oldage Home and Himalaya Oldage Home along with, elderly inmates who are in the prisons supported by Prisoner’s Assistance Nepal.
Our heartfelt thanks to Bihani Saathi Ko Saathi & Resource Pool Member Chanchal Thapa for sponsoring a meal for the Residents at Bihani Social Venture’s social impact partner Matatirtha Oldage Home today. We would also like to thank Sarya, Samarth & Jaegoo from Lincoln School, Nepal because of whose support we were able to fund the vegetables needed for the Residents.
Our heartfelt thanks to Tsering W. Ringu and Jay for providing much needed items to Bihani’s Social Impact Partners Matatirtha Oldage Home and Prisoner’s Assistance Nepal to commemorate their Wedding Anniversary. We were able to deliver – Masks, Milk Powder, Biscuits, Vegetables,and Chicken for the Residents of Matatirtha Oldage Home while, Sanistisers, Biscuits, Disposable Gloves and Masks will be handed over to the elderly inmates in Dhulikhel Prison by Prisoner’s Assistance Nepal.
Our heartfelt thanks to Chhewang Sherpa and the team from Everest Awakening supported by Pemba Sherpa and Manish Maharjan for looking out and for your compassion to support those in need. Charu Chadha thanks for connecting us and always being there for us and Ram Thapa Sir along with team of Matatirtha Old Age Home for the coordination.
Our heartfelt gratitude to our dearest Bihani Saathi Ko Saathi & Resource Pool Member Hasana Shakya for supporting us with the essentials required by Navakiran Children Home run by an elderly – Sabitri Pokharel Aama. We would also like to thank Sangeeta Shrestha for connecting us.
Our heartfelt thanks to Samridhi Rana for providing Bihani’s social impact partner Matatirtha Oldage Home with much needed vegetables from KHETI for her birthday. Special thanks to our Bihani Saathi Ko Saathi & Resource Pool member Dr. Swaraj Rajbhandari for providing Gloves and Thermal Gun despite the lockdown.
Our heartfelt thanks to Bihani Saathi Ko Saathi & Resource Pool Member Beena Pant for providing relief materials and essentials for our Social impact Partner Matatirtha Oldage Home as part of Bihani’s “𝑊𝑟𝑖𝑛𝑘𝑙𝑒𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑆𝑚𝑖𝑙𝑒𝑠 𝑖𝑛𝑖𝑡𝑖𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑣𝑒”.
Thanks to our team members Ritchie Alex Sampson and Susmriti Bomjan Tamang for collecting the materials despite the ongoing situation.
DIGITAL INCLUSION INITIATIVE & EMPOWERMENT to provide a support system to elders for not only sharing knowledge, but also as a platform for interaction:
- Conducting online sessions with experts, medical professionals and relevant organisations
- Encouraging and providing necessary technical support to keep older adults better engaged, informed and close to their loved ones, social media engagement, information through
- Providing support to start blogs as a way of documenting oral history, experiences and sharing knowledge
Some of our members’ blog pages that they have created to share their experiences, knowledge and passion:
Online sessions conducted in partnership with Experts, Medical Professionals and Organisations are listed below:
- Yoga for Elder Series
- Looking After Your H𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐭 & L𝐮𝐧𝐠𝐬
- Understanding Dementia & Alzheimer’s: Caregiving & Support
- Dealing with Trauma with focus on the Pandemic: Knowing your Coping Mechanism Through BASIC-Ph
- Menstrual Cycle: Understanding Menstrual problems and taking care of self or others Online Tai chi session for elders
- Spiritual Care & Healing focussing on self care especially during the lockdown
- Chit Chat with Psychologist focussing on issues related with the lockdown and pandemic
- Tai Chi for Elders Series
- Unlearn, Learn & Re-learn session on connecting with self, community and the environment
- Issues faced by Elders with specific reference to FAQs related to COVID-19
- Technical Support provided to elders with using Zoom, Skype and other Apps
- #LockdownMemories #BihaniMembersInspire – Social Media campaign for Members, Elders, Families and Experts to share their stories or experiences and suggestions to live meaningfully during the lockdown by remaining positive
- Bridging Local Farmers & Consumers with KHETI
- Dementia Awareness Session commemorating World Alzheimer’s Day 2020 on 21st September
- Creation of Self Help Group – focusing on Dementia Support Group
- Introducing Features of Bihani App – First app for elders and family in Nepal
- Introduction to Niyamit Abhyaas
- Maintaining Overall Health & Wellbeing during Festive Season
- Introduction to Bihani App beta version for elders and family
- Sessions to continue as per the interest and need of the Members/ elders and their families.
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