Lower Silesia Voivodeship Marshal Office, Poland
Dr. Antoni Zwiefka
The Marshal Office of Lower Silesia Voivodeship, as a public institution, is responsible inter alia for the health policy creation for their citizens. As in the whole of Europe, the elderly are a growing part of our population. Therefore, the Health Policy Department in the framework of health promotion, focuses on programs dedicated to pursuing a number of elderly people. As part of the activation of local communities for the development of environmental services for the elderly, we announced a tender for an open competitions for the public implementation for: activating groups; health promotion, and; protection efforts, including development of community services for the elderly. On the initiative of members of the Australian Council for Senior Citizens, appointed by the Authority, once a year (every year in another city / municipality) the Forum of Australian Universities of the Third Age is held. In total there are presented examples of good practice on issues such as cooperation between organizations, mobilization of resources from the EU, etc. The activities of the Department of Health Policy and Senior Citizens Council of Lower Silesia are presented on a national and international conferences and public debates.
A very important element of our business was the implementation of the "Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP) Four-leaf Clover - quality model of senior service sector" project. Within this project, we began work on the econometric model of senior service quality through a satisfaction survey. Preliminary studies were started with the participation of researchers from the University of Economics - Department of Quality Analysis. Follow-up Department action dedicated to the elderly will be continued under the existing activities such as needs reported by members of the Council Board of Lower Silesia and the needs of seniors resulted by strong international cooperation. Health care institutions also include the cooperation related to the provision of adequate care for the elderly. Planning is underway to create an institution which is a center of training and implementation of innovations in the field of geriatrics. To help develop support for geriatric residents of our province, it is necessary to prepare highly specialized staff, both medical, nursing and administration to accomplish this task. It becomes necessary to create a medium to train specialist staff who will be able to provide geriatric care. Education of medical professionals in the field of geriatrics primarily takes place in hospitals, led by a branch of professionals active in the field. Another project is focused on developing in a residential geriatric rehabilitation center with the aim of transitioning into geriatric home care. The establishment of this center will improve the quality of care for the elderly throughout the region, and also open the possibility of cooperation with other voivodeships.
The ageing of society and its associated consequences are the subject of many studies in Poland. Poland is an example of a country where the transformation of health, social and retirement systems took place as part of constitutional changes due to the fall of the communist system in 1989. Prior to this, the Polish government guaranteed all citizens work, health and social care. Some of these reforms are still in progress and further action, in political terms, has been implemented.
Activities for older people are the responsibility of Health Protection, with separate areas of responsibility on the part of the state, local governments and the National Health Fund. Health Protection covers three areas of activity, health care, public health and social care:
- Health care services are aimed at patients who already have a condition that requires treatment. This is the part of the health sector, which is conventionally called restorative medicine.
- Public health activities are aimed at the entire population in order to prevent health problems. This includes health promotion and prevention.
- Social services and its activities are aimed at individuals who require permanent social and health services, for example individuals who are chronically ill or disabled.
Social work is an element of social policy organised by the government, often the minister responsible for social security and government appointed ministers (voivodes), representatives at district levels and county authorities, mayors (presidents of the cities and at the level of municipalities). These organisations are pursuing the task of assisting social work, in partnership with civil society and non-governmental organisations, the Catholic Church, other churches, religious associations, individuals and lawyers. Social work supports individuals and families in their efforts to meet their essential needs and enables them to provide an element of dignity in later life. The role of social assistance helps prevent difficult situations that may arise by providing support and encouraging self-empowerment of individuals and families. Social work is the responsibility of: the municipality, county, regional authorities and the Minister responsible for social security. A major role is played in providing a wide range of activities by non-governmental organisations, such as the Red Cross, University of the Third Age, the Parliamentary Team for the Elderly People, and local advisory bodies such as Lower Silesian Council for Senior Citizens.
Lower Silesia Voivodeship cooperates with Parliamentary Team for the Elderly which was created in June 2008 and brings together members and senators from across the Polish Parliament. The team seeks to respond to the challenges that an ageing society brings. They see the need for developing a long-term strategy for using and strengthening the human capital of older people.