As a biggest and most populated City in Serbia, Belgrade also is a city with deep demographic problems and differencies. Over 16% of population is elderly persons, over 65 years, and most of them are situated in central City municipalities. City has mechanisms of support for the elderly. There are 23 clubs, but they are suitable only for those who do not have significant medical condition and are functional on their own. On the other hand it is estimated that 10% of elderly population, over 65 years, suffers from dementia. So, there is a lack of support in social care services provided for the elderly with dementia.
When started their advocacy initiative to influence on City of Belgrade to introduce innovative service of Day Center for elderly with dementia, Association of citizens "Power of Friendship" - Amity has conducted a research Life with no memory, and some of the findings indicate that only 5% of demented persons are younger than 65 years and every fifth person lives alone. Significant were also findings that 60% of demented persons do not use any of the guaranteed rights or services based on their illness. Their care takers are usually family members. Also, 80% of keens believe that establishment of the service of daily care centers would be of enormous help to families, and three quarters of them are ready to participate in co-financing this service. With those inputs, Amity started their advocacy initiative, but they were faced with a great challenge at the very beginning of their initiative.
In April, an Interim Administration in Belgrade City brought Decision on amendments to the Decision on rights and social services for the City of Belgrade, and suspended several existing social care services (such as Drop in center for children living and/or working on the street on the territory of Belgrade and Personal Assistants for persons with disabilities as a support to their independent living) and some of the social benefits were also suspended or reduced. Nevertheless, they gained a great support for their initiative by organized public events, celebrating World Alzheimer’s day and International Day of Older Persons with a street action, public discussions and consultative meetings with experts, representatives of relevant institutions and other CSOs from their network of support.
Their initiative brought up significant media interest, and was covered with reports in national media (Agency Tanjug, B92, Ekapija, Politika, Radio Belgrade, etc).
They worked closely with Secretariat for Social Care of City of Belgrade, emphasizing importance of introducing this service, and they managed to reach the agreement with the Secretariat to start to find resources for piloting service of Day Center for elderly with dementia in Belgrade in one of the municipalities, by finding available facilities and basic funding of the service.
Initiative is supported by Trag Foundation, within its program Social Care Reform Initiative, which is implemented with financial assistance from American Agency for International Development.