As Georgia relaxes its COVID-19 lockdown, sustaining assistance to vulnerable persons is key to preventing any renewed outbreak of the virus.
As part of the wider COVID-19 response, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the UK Government are launching a new initiative to provide home care support and other services to 4,000 vulnerable people at high risk of contracting COVID-19 in Tbilisi and the regions – older people living on their own, persons with chronic diseases and special needs, and people who need some additional support in self-isolation.
With over USD 60,000 in the UK funding, the initiative will be implemented by the Georgia Red Cross Society (GRCS) in close partnership with the Tbilisi City Hall and 29 municipalities across Georgia.
“I have been deeply impressed by Georgia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said British Ambassador to Georgia Justin McKenzie Smith. “One thing we have learned is that the virus is indiscriminate in who it affects. However, some are particularly vulnerable. The UK is proud to help Georgia’s municipal authorities and the Georgia Red Cross Society to provide professional home care services to those most in need. These services can make a huge difference to people’s lives.”
“Georgia stands out in having protected its elderly and frail population from the ravages of the pandemic,“ said UNDP Head Louisa Vinton. “But particular vigilance is needed now as the economy reopens and social life resumes. With this new initiative, we are assisting those who are most at risk and, at the same time, promoting the idea that care services should be provided to all in need even after the pandemic passes.”
Georgia introduced the Universal Healthcare Programme in 2013, aiming to provide accessible healthcare services to all citizens. However, the programme leaves long-term home care services for older people and persons with special needs mostly to non-governmental organizations (NGOs). According to the data of the Social Service Agency, currently up to 772,300 pensioners are registered in the country, based on the information from the NGOs most of them need professional home care; however, NGOs can only cover about 15 percent of this demand. Tbilisi is the only city in Georgia where home care is partly covered by municipal service providers, but even there, only 1,200 out of 20,000 people in need of professional home care are eligible to receive this service from the municipality.
The UNDP and UK initiative will provide professional and community-based home care services to 4,000 beneficiaries in Tbilisi and 29 municipalities across the country. In addition, GRCS will launch an online learning platform for home care staff, volunteers and informal caregivers, to equip them with the knowledge and skills needed to deliver professional and community-based home care.
The assistance to home care services is part of a wider programme to support the ongoing Public Administration Reform in Georgia that is implemented by UNDP with funds from the UK Government.