Recommendation to consider changing the decision on prohibition of visits to residential institutions for older persons

Commissioner for Protection of Equality Brankica Jankovic sent a recommendation to the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Health to consider amending the existing ban on visits and restrictions on movement in residential institutions for the elderly, after appeals from citizens and associations dealing with the protection of the elderly in Serbia.

Jankovic welcomed the fact that vaccination first began in social protection institutions for the elderly residence at the end of last year, but she also pointed out to other health risks for elderly that are caused by long-term isolation and loneliness, such as increased depression, anxiety and cognitive impairment, especially dementia. Commissioner also reminded of the UN document on the impact of the pandemic on the elderly, which emphasizes that due to physical distance, the elderly need additional social support because they can face great suffering during isolation, and that the older persons have the same rights to live and be healthy like all other citizens.

According to the valid Order, users of residential institutions for the elderly in Serbia are completely forbidden to leave the facility, and visits are completely prohibited except those scheduled in advance, under condition there are no cases of illness in the institution among employees and residents, in the period of two weeks before the visit, or if the resident has been vaccinated before and at least seven days have passed since the second dose.

In conclusion, Commissioner emphasizes that senior citizens of Serbia have borne the brunt of the pandemic because they were separated from children, relatives and friends from the very beginning, but that they also demonstrated high level of awareness, understanding and respect for all epidemiological measures taken. Commissioner expressed expectation that authorities will find an adequate way to solve this problem.

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