No. 210-21

No. 07-00-206/2021-02 date: 12.4.2021.

 

GERONTOLOGY CENTER BELGRADE

– NURSING HOME “BEŽANIJSKA KOSA” –

11000 BELGRADE

Marije Bursаć no. 49

 

Dear Sir,

 

The Commissioner for the Protection of Equality was addressed by A.A. and B.B., whose mother is V.V., a user of the Gerontology Center in Belgrade, Nursing Home “Bežanijska kosa”. A.A. is the guardian of V.V. because she is blind, immobile and suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. In their address to the Commissioner, they pointed out that due to the prescribed epidemiological measures, they had not seen their mother for a year, and that they had only contacted her by telephone. They further stated that A.A. requested clarification from the Institution regarding the conditions of the visit, the type of vaccine, as well as the prescribed procedures. They stated that the answer of the Institution on these questions stated that visits are organized in a room designated for that, which is the same condition that was valid last summer. In their address to the Commissioner, they stated that this type of visit is just fulfilling the form, having in mind the degree and type of disability of their mother.

Regarding the change in the regime of visits and restrictions on movement in institutions for the elderly, the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality, in accordance with the competencies prescribed by the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination[1], on March 18, 2021, sent recommendations of measures for achieving equality to the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Health. You can get acquainted with the above recommendations on the official website of the Commissioner, at the address: http://ravnopravnost.gov.rs/preporuka-mera-ministarstvu-za-rad-zaposljavanje-boracka-i-socijalna-pitanja-povodom-zabrane-poseta-i-ogranicenja-kretanja-u-ustanovama-za-smestaj-starijih-lica/

By a letter dated March 10, 2021, the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs informed the Commissioner that this Ministry had issued an Instruction on the manner of operation of social protection institutions for accommodation of beneficiaries and organization of visits to beneficiaries at the accommodation, no. … of 9 June 2020, as well as to have given a Recommendation to social protection institutions for accommodation of beneficiaries and social protection organizations for the provision of nursing home accommodation services on the manner of conduct during visits, no. … dated February 3, 2021. According to the Ministry, the Recommendation and Instruction were delivered to all social protection institutions for the accommodation of beneficiaries and were published on the website of this Ministry.

In the part of the Recommendation submitted by the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs to the Commissioner, which refers to prevention measures during visits to institutions/organizations, it is stated, under number 16, that hugging is allowed with special, additional protection measures, that is that during the visit, the visitor must wear a PPE suit, put on disposable gloves and wear a visor in addition to a protective mask.

The Commissioner points out that for people who are blind, the sense of touch is an extremely important part of perception, unlike people for whom the sense of sight is preserved. Namely, touch is an integral part of independent living for many blind people, since, at least to some extent, it replaces their sight. Disabling the use of this sense often means greater dependence on others and affects their mental health and quality of life, and thus reflects on the quality of life of beneficiaries of nursing homes.

In this particular case, the Commissioner points out that in addition to being blind, V.V. is an immobile person, and that direct contact with relatives is even more important for her. Having in mind the stated facts, as well as the fact that the relatives were vaccinated, and that she was placed in a single room, it is necessary, in compliance with epidemiological measures against the spread of infectious disease COVID-19 and the Recommendation of the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs, that you allow a visit in the way that would be most appropriate, given the type and degree of disability V.V.

Article 33, item 9 of the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination stipulates that the Commissioner recommends measures for achieving equality to public authorities and other persons.

In this regard, the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality recommends that, in the future, the Gerontology Center Belgrade, in situations pertaining to the actions of the institution when facilitating visits to beneficiaries of nursing homes who are blind and/or immobile, allows visits in the most appropriate way, given the epidemiological measures against the spread of infectious disease COVID-19 and the Recommendation of the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs.

The Gerontology Center in Belgrade will inform the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality about the planned measures in order to implement this recommendation, within 30 days from the day of receiving the recommendation of measures for achieving equality.

No appeal or any other legal remedy is allowed against this recommendation of measures for achieving equality in accordance with the law.

[1] „Official Gazette of the RS“, No. 22/09

COMMISSIONER FOR THE PROTECTION OF EQUALITY
Brankica Jankovic

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