Social gerontologists presented examples of good practices from abroad

The Department of Social Gerontology carried out the dissemination of professional visits of communities for the elderly in different European countries (and India) in the framework of Erasmus+ program in the form of a presentation entitled COMMUNITIES OF ELDERLY IN THE EUROPEAN SPACE: EXAMPLES OF GOOD PRACTICES.

To upgrade the study and acquire new knowledge, students and professors of social gerontology have organized multiple professional excursions to experience experiential learning. This year they have visited the Whiteley Village - one of the oldest retirement communities in the United Kingdom, The Hogeweyk - an advanced village for the elderly with dementia in the Netherlands, Ciudad Patricia - a leading resort in Europe that allows independent living for people in the retirement age, and Rajagari hospital in Kerala, India.

"These types of excursions enable an insight, a review, a presence and an involvement in the actual topics, and also represent an initiative for cooperation, motivation, work with the elderly as well as imaginative and original thinking. I am convinced that after all these visits we are all richer in knowledge, which can be at least partially transferred into Slovenian practice," in her introduction talk said Jana Goriup, Head of the Department of Social Gerontology at Alma Mater Europaea.

Head of Doctoral studies of Social Gerontology, David Bogataj pointed out that as a part of the professional excursions, they have discovered many alternative solutions to classic homes for the elderly that we know in Slovenia. “It's about communities. These are purpose-built spaces that look completely different. Basically, we are talking about a real neighborhood with organized forms of household communities, where the residents have access to a store, which is visited with an assistance of a housekeeper to buy groceries or to do some other daily duties that they were otherwise used to, "explains  Bogataj.

"All examples reflect the socio-economic context of their locations, which are a reflection of the history, culture of space and time, and the political system, that must be taken into account when considering possible directions for the development of age-friendly communities in Slovenia. What most examples of good practices have in common is not primarily of a technical nature, but of a social or conceptual nature, which rearranges social relations and fills in the void between conventional apartments and traditional homes for the elderly," pointed out the doctoral student Suzanna Mežnarec Novosel, in her lecture about development directions of age-friendly communities in Europe.

Lana Ritlop, a student of physiotherapy and the head of volunteer students, provided insight into the holistic treatment of the elderly at the Rajagari Hospital in Kerala, India. "The hospital where we conducted our volunteer work is considered as one of the most reputed in the state of Kerala. The most interesting and productive part of our work was assisting the mobile palliative team, consisting of a doctor, a social worker, a nurse, and a physiotherapist. They visit residents with incurable medical conditions, especially the poor. The task of the palliative care team is also to take care of the basic living necessities for people," Ritlop said, adding that the student volunteers working within the project Physiotherapists Without Borders tried to use their knowledge and volunteer work to do as much good as possible for the patients there.

The entire presentation included the following lectures:

-      Development trends of age-friendly communities in Europe (Suzanna Mežnarec Novosel)

-      Creating social value by investing in social infrastructure - Impact on health and longevity (David Bogataj)

-      A typical day in the Hogeweyk and Whiteley village: patient's perspective (Brigita Vrtačnik and Suzanna Mežnarec Novosel)

-      Animation, activities, and staff at the Hogeweyk (Nina Fajfar, Vesna Štumberger Kukovec and Marjanca Gaberšek)

-      Safety of elderly with advanced dementia in a new context (Nataša Štandeker)

-      The importance of a healthy lifestyle for the elderly in communities and the role of health professionals in the field of interprofessional cooperation (Senior Lecturer, Nataša Vidnar)

-      Financial aspects of the functioning of communities - the Hogeweyk and Whiteley village (Borut Vidmar)

-      Holistic approaches to elderly care in Kerala, India (Lana Ritlop, Neža Pahič, Eva Menhart, and Anja Jelka Polanec)

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