Multi-front battle for balanced and active aging

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Multi-front battle for balanced and active aging

Budapest, Hungary
Project Stage:
Scaling
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Supportive conversations, chat service, free computer literacy training, legal, patients’ rights, medical and psychological counselling, club meetings

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

In traditional society elderly people have a role: the community relies on their life experience and wisdom. In the modern world, however, this age group is often a burden, and beyond their physical existence there is no concern for their mental health, active and healthy aging. Loneliness, illness, poverty, conflicts in the family, even loneliness within the family, fear of death, mourning – these are the most frequent problems the elderly face. In our fast moving world, elderly people tend to be excluded from the events of everyday life. They become more sensitive and vulnerable. They find it difficult to come to terms with the passing of the years, the loss of personal relationships and daily contacts with the family members. In a crisis situation old people are often left to their own resources, with nobody to call on if they feel exposed or have suicidal impulses. The services that are available for the Hungarian elderly in the social care system provide exclusively physical care. The services provide meal, assistance in shopping and cleaning but the welfare workers have little time and a heavy work load, which does not allow a deeper and meaningful interaction with their clients including listening to their everyday problems, mental pains, joys or conflicts. To be able to make anonymous calls to the center means that the older people in need can freely express their thoughts, bad feelings or doubts which have often been hidden even from themselves. They do not have to face the listener whose body language may imply to them criticism or judgment. They can enjoy the benefits of supportive listening, shared thoughts, empathy and confidentiality. Searching for the right words, finding previously unidentified connections stimulate progress and can provide a secure foothold. Many elderly suffer from a new situation brought on by retirement and the psychological and physical burdens of inactivity. They ought to find a new community and sensible new goals as well as new skills to adapt to the new life challenges. DélUtán offers assistance and ideas to facilitate this process. DélUtán Foundation helps preserve the mental health of a group, which is not dealt with properly by other social, civil or governmental organizations.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The phone service, which helps the elderly with supportive conversations, is the primary and most important activity of DélUtán since 1998. Conversations may ease sadness and loneliness, help to avoid suicidal ideas. The discussions often reveal long-time hidden pain. The service also provides reliable practical information on home care, personal alarm systems, messenger service or home deliveries, which may help the caller to avoid the feeling of vulnerability. The innovation lies in the demand based approach. DélUtán is ready to face new challenges and address newly emerging needs of the clients. In 2001 DélUtán's launched a free legal consulting service. In 2002 a patients’ rights legal counsel service was introduced. Since 2003, free medical advice has been offered once a week. The DélUtán psychologist provides free personal counseling. In 2008 DélUtán launched a computer course for the elderly. Getting acquainted with the Internet may ease the social isolation and may help finding job opportunities. These courses proved to be an incredible success. There is a long waiting list which includes applicants between the ages of 45 and 87. The phone discussions exposed that there are lots of clients who are open to new relationships and would require personal encounters. For their sake DélUtán Clubs are organized in different parts of Budapest, where people can meet, play games, talk, and make new friends. Based on the solid and long term experience, DélUtán has always been seeking partners in Europe to build partnership, to cooperate and to share experience and to learn. A European grant gave an opportunity to DélUtán to identify partners who work with the same target group in Slovakia, Romania and Serbia and are interested in cooperating and setting up a help line service based on DélUtán’s know-how. As its newest development, DélUtán has started providing helpline service in e-mail and on chat. DélUtán makes sure that posters and information leaflets with the programs and contact information are available at locations frequented by the elderly, such as hospitals, libraries and council client support services and pensioners’ clubs in all the country. All the services of DélUtán are free of charge for the clients and all the services are delivered by volunteers that ensure sustainability since 1998.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

DélUtán’s PR activity already differs from the other help-line services. Leaflets and posters are distributed in hospitals, clinics, libraries, places that are often visited by the elderly target group. The phone calls have a limited time-frame, 20 minutes. In return we make sure that the callers can return regularly and often build up a long term connection with a selected counselor. Most of the clients do not have any meaningful relationship neither with family members nor with friends. As an example a brief description of a typical case: The caller is a widow, already pensioner. Her alcoholic unemployed son regularly visits her on pay days and forcing her to give him all the money. The caller does not see any other way out of the situation but suicide. The counselor – after a joint analysis of the emotional aspects - carefully describes those legal solutions that would prevent these visits, like restraining order. Next month the caller returns and describes the same situation as earlier but this time she doesn't have suicide impulses but requires more details on the legal steps. She is not lost and hopeless anymore.
Sustainability

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

In Europe there are only two similar help-line services - in Great Britain and Ireland - that focus solely on the elderly. While there are no and have never been services similar to DélUtán neither in Hungary and nor in the neighboring countries. The Hungarian help-line services are mostly available for special target groups (children, drug users, victims of sexual abuse, alcoholics, cancer patients, etc). DélUtán built up a fruitful professional cooperation with these services. The methods and methodology of all the services, including DélUtán, is based on international standards (IFOTES). As to methods and innovation, DélUtán is considered as one of the best professional services in Hungary. Volunteers are trained by the best and most recognized professionals in Hungary. Due to careful and considered gerontology training, volunteers answer calls in an exemplary way with empathy, patience, respect and expert knowledge. DélUtán is disadvantaged in only one area, namely the limited service time that is 3 hours per day. Extension of the time of the service would require significant funding that is not available for the time being.
About You
About You
First Name

Tunde

Last Name

Buzetzky

Implementer(s) and cooperation partners
Name

DélUtán Alapítvány - AfterNoon Foundation

Type

Foundation

Country where main implementer is located

, PE, Budapest

How long has the main implementer been operating?

More than 5 years

Please provide a short description of the main implementer.

DélUtán (AfterNoon) Foundation is a helpline service dedicated solely to provide help to elderly people to sustain their mental health and active status in the society.

DélUtán was established in 1998 and since then it is available every day of the year including holidays and the line can be reached from any locality in the country free of charge (telephone number is 0680 200 866). The calls are received by 35 volunteers, who do this demanding work, just like the charity’s management, without remuneration. Voluntarism is the basis of the sustainability of the project.

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Cooperation partner
Name
Type

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Website
How does this cooperation partner support the initiative? What competencies and resources does this partner bring to the initiative?
Cooperation partner
Name
Type

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Website
How does this cooperation partner support the initiative? Which competencies and resources does this partner bring to the initiative?
Cooperation partner
Name
Type

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Website
How does this cooperation partner support the initiative? Which competencies and resources does this partner bring to the initiative?
Cooperation partner
Name
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Website
How does this cooperation partner support the initiative? Which competencies and resources does this partner bring to the initiative?
Problem and solution
Which of these fields of Active and Healthy Ageing are addressed by your initiative?

Health literacy and patient empowerment, Independent living solutions, Social inclusion (intergenerational practice, work and volunteering).

If none of the above, answer here:
Please describe if and how your stakeholders (cooperation partners, funders, users, etc.) have been participating in defining the problem and developing the solution.

The founders of the DélUtán volunteered at a child help line service 19 years ago. They noticed the growing number of grandparents’ age clients who shared their concerns regarding their grandchildren. The discussions soon revealed their own pressing problems and feeling of isolation and vulnerability. It became obvious that there was an emerging need to set up a help line service solely focusing on the elderly. The founders of DélUtán are private persons who identified the need and established the help line for elderly in 1998.
DélUtán’s program has always been led by the clients’ demand and needs. DélUtán follows a bottom up approach where the real needs from the ground initiate new program elements.
The other important input comes from the partner organizations that help to shape DélUtán’s program. There is an informal close cooperation and continuous exchange of professional information with several helpline services with different target groups (NaNe-Women against Domestic Violence, Drug-Stop, Association of Cancer Patients, LGBT help-line, Blue Line for Children in Crisis)

Has your solution been tested in trials, experimentations, or pilot projects? If yes, please describe the process and outcome.

As described above, the new program elements were added one by one to the complex program year by year after a careful consideration and testing period. The new program elements were introduced based on the request and demand of the clients.

The new program elements were announced together with the regular ongoing program through posters and flyers as well as on DélUtán’s web site. When the interest of the clients was measurably growing and the feedback of the clients was positive and supportive, we added the program element to our regular steady program and allocated financial resources to it when it was applicable (like in case of the computer literacy program).

How long has your solution been in operation?

for more than 5 years

Please select the relationship between your solution and related solutions currently established in our society. Is your solution…

complementary (your solution is complementing existing solutions and compensating their weaknesses while not intending to substitute them)

What barriers might hinder the success of your initiative? How do you plan to overcome them?

We believe that our initiative, the well developed and growing program of DélUtán is successful and meets with the need of the target group. The lack of funding might hinder the initiative.
DélUtán uses every opportunity to apply for funding to ensure the continuous operation of the services. Applications are submitted annually to Telekom, so that the clients may be able to call the center free of charge. Given the excessive interest, charges for the green phone number regularly exceed the subsidy granted by Telekom. Although this is a problem when DélUtán needs to settle its bills, it implies that there is an acute need for a free service of this kind.
In the first 10 years of operations, DélUtán received grants repeatedly from the Hungarian Soros Foundation, the City Social Foundation and also the Local Municipal Council, the district where DélUtán has been working from the start.
Until 2009 the Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Youth and Family regularly contributed to our work. Unfortunately they stopped this contribution, which seriously endangers the future of the service.
In 2010 DélUtán successfully applied for the first time for a European Union grant.

Organization and funding
Regularly paid employees

none

Volunteers

43

Trainees

12

External advisers and experts

9

Others (please specify)

32 student volunteers are working at the computer literacy course

What are the specific professional backgrounds and competencies your team brings to the initiative?

New counselors are being trained for 6 months before they start working on their own.
The majority of the volunteers are women, at the moment only 10 % of the active counselors are males. The age of the volunteers ranges from 30 to 80. The volunteers come with very different background; there are social workers, teachers, librarians, lawyers, engineers, economists, etc. The competencies differ based on the experience at the service. A selected group of volunteers serve as mentors for the new comers and less experienced volunteers. Professional growth is guaranteed by regular training.

Please describe your management or coordination structure in the initiative.

DélUtán is managed by a 5 members Board of Trustees. The board makes the decisions regarding the strategy and financial allocation of available funds. The Chair of the Board manages the daily activities of the DélUtán Foundation. Each member of the board has certain responsibilities, like human resources, fund raising, computer literacy program, mentor network and training, cooperation with partner organizations.
Each sub-program (computer course, clubs, etc) has its own responsible coordinator who keeps a daily contact with the responsible board member and Chair of the Board.

Please provide the total yearly budget in Euro that your initiative spends on implementing the solution.

EUR 15,000

National public funding

20%

European Union public funding

%

Economic return from own products/services

%

Foundations and philanthropy capital

50%

Single donations from private individuals

10%

Donations from private companies

20%

Crowdfunding platforms

%

Participation fees

%

Other (please specify)

%

Target group, scale and impact
Which target group(s) do you want to reach with your solution?

The target group is primarily the vulnerable elderly population.
According to the latest census 1.5 million people are above 65, about 15 % of the Hungarian population.
Most of the clients are females. The explanation is that men are less open to ask for help and to share their feelings. The other aspect is the age-tree; there are 617,000 male and 1,053,000 female above 65.
In 2009 184 women and 454 men above 65 died by suicide while there were overall 24,000 suicide attempts, second highest in Europe.
The clients’ educational background varies across all segments of the society.

Please estimate the number of persons within your target group (users, clients, etc.) that you currently reach directly with your solution.

About 2700 clients annually.

In which local/regional/national area(s) is the solution currently implemented?

The service is nationwide. During the EU financed project the service reached out to Romania, Slovakia and Serbia also.

What is the impact on your target group (users, clients) you want to generate?

As in case of most of the help-line services, DélUtán’s primarily goal is to prevent suicide attempts. Counselors need to distinguish hidden suicide thought from games of human relationships, recognize and address them. DélUtán has a number of clients with dementia. Counselors’ seek the healthy part of the mind and approach it.
Sometimes the impact is really rewarding when the clients find a community, friendship and moreover pleasure in life. Clients often come back confirming that their suicide impulses are not part of their life anymore.

What is the wider impact on society you want to generate?

Obviously the wider impact DélUtán wishes to generate is to decrease the number of suicide attempts and increase the number of mentally healthy and balanced elderly population.
DélUtán finds the computer literacy course as a cornerstone in generating wider impact. Getting acquainted with the Internet significantly eases the social isolation and helplessness. Usage of computer also boosts the self-esteem and promotes the respect of the younger family members.

What are the impacts on your target group you already achieved?

As described above DélUtán services helped to reduce the feeling of loneliness, relieved the fear of death, expelled suicide impulses, and provided legal and medical advice. Internet literacy helped the every day life of the elderly clients by enhanced communication and easy access to services. Clubs provided an opportunity to spend quality time and added to creation of a new small community.

How has the impact of your initiative been assessed?

Experience-based self-assessment (you assessed the impacts based on your experiences with the target group), Self-evaluation (you used qualitative and/or quantitative methods to assess impacts).

Public information and strategy
What information on your initiative is publicly available?

Mission and strategy, Organisational structure, Financial report.

Please indicate webpage or contact for obtaining the respective information.
What are your milestones for further developing, implementing, and establishing your initiative in the next three years? Please describe 1-3 milestones.

As a new development, DélUtán has started providing helpline service in e-mail and chat. DélUtán opens the service for people over 25.
Our latest idea is to reach out to Hungarian migrants with the help of online services. According to recent data, at least 2 % of the population migrated to Western Europe due to the crisis. Migrants often feel excluded and rootless. DélUtán wishes to help these people to keep a healthy mental balance despite any difficulties.
We continue our advocacy work together with our partners to make the phone calls free of charge for the help-line services.