Kochi: With instances of elder abuse on the rise, an initiative for protection of older persons that includes setting up of a dedicated round-the-clock ‘ElderLine’ and the grass-root level support to victims will be launched across the state on Saturday.
Project ‘PEACE’ (Prevention of elder abuse cell) is implemented by the National Health Mission (NHM) in tie up with the Kerala Social Security Mission (KSSM) and two NGOs – Indian Medical Association (National) and Kochi-based MAGICS.
Senior citizens, subjected to abuse of any kind, or their relatives from anywhere in the state can ring up a round-the-clock ‘Elderline’ set up for the purpose. The project will be launched in Ernakulam on Saturday as part of observing the Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
“The NHM has agreed to provide popular ‘Disha Helpline Number 1056’ for the Crisis call centre services too. Any call related to older persons will be diverted to our facility. Initially we’ll provide services like counseling and grass-root level support,” said Dr Praveen G Pai of ‘MAGICS’.
The complicated cases will be forwarded to district level redressal mechanism (ward member/councilor, Vayomitram co-ordinator, senior citizen associations and the like), and to the Police and the RDO/ District administration if required.
Also free legal assistance will be provided to victims, regular conduction of awareness classes on ‘Prevention of Elder abuse’ and the ‘Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (MWPSC) Act 2007’, which deals with protection for older persons, will he held.
The project would see nearly 50, 000 volunteers functioning at grass-root level, mainly nearly 26, 000 ASHA workers under the NHM programme and 10, 000 Palliative care nurses under the KSSM besides volunteers.
An agreement has been reached with the CUSAT School of Legal Studies to provide continuous training to volunteers, once in every three months, on different aspects regarding abuse of senior citizens and the legal steps to be followed in different situations.
“The NHM is supporting the project and its implementation. Abuse of older persons is prevalent in our society. A majority of victims are suffering from conditions like Dementia or Depression and need help at grass-root level. The initiative is the first such one across the country where abuse prevention strategies are planned with the participation of community,” said NHM district Co-ordinator Dr Mathews M Numpeli.