Audio-video chat rooms for the elderly in Subotica


On Friday, September, 04th 2020. ASB and Gerontology Center in Subotica organised press conference in Gerontological club, within action „More social with more distance – German support against COVID’19 in Serbia“. This event was supported by the German Embassy in Serbia and the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs of the Republic of Serbia, after delivering a donation of IT equipment to this institution, as a response to the crisis caused by the COVID-19 virus pandemic.

Namely, after signing the Agreement of donation on June 12, 2020 with the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs of the Republic of Serbia, ASB delivered sets of IT equipment to the nursing homes and gerontology centres in Kruševac, Subotica, Šabac, Dimitrovgrad and Novi Pazar, as a response to the COVID-19 word pandemic crisis. Donation was financed by the German Foreign Ministry with the goal to ease the isolation and enable easier and more frequent contacts with family and friends during pandemic to the beneficiaries of this institutions.

In the scope of this action, the Center in Subotica is awarded with a set of computers, televisions, cameras, speakers and other accompanying equipment, so their users can strengthen or establish regular online communication with their loved ones while respecting the requirements of social distancing during #COVID_19 pandemic situation.

On this occasion, the director of the Gerontology Center Subotica Nenad Ivanisevic, a member of the City Council in charge of social protection and health Ilija Djukanovic and the director of ASB Serbia Gordan Velev addressed the audience, pointing out the need for joint action and good cooperation of the public sector and international institutions and organizations in such situations, as well as the importance of respecting measures and social distancing in order to prevent the spread of corona virus. Care for the most vulnerable population was emphasized as a priority and, in addition to health care, more attention should be paid to the psycho-social aspect of this population, which has been living indoors for months and with limited contacts.

Equipment worth 10,000 euros was installed in six living rooms in Gerontology Center Subotica, followed by short training for its use. Namely, when a state of emergency was declared in the Republic of Serbia due to the epidemic, and in accordance with Government measures, all users of gerontological centers in the country were interned in the isolation regime in dormitory facilities, there was a need to establish conditions for long-distance mass communication between users and their families. In accordance with this situation, the Gerontology Center in Subotica has developed the concept of an audiovisual chat rooms. Main idea was to equip the living rooms in all three facilities of the Gerontology Center – Dudova Šuma Home, Adult Home and Nursing Home, with audiovisual donation, that would, on the one hand, enable better and continuous communication between users and their families and friends, while on the other hand it would serve to show educational, cultural and entertainment content, as well as dedicated programs within occupational therapy.

Friendship is defined by help in trouble and difficult times. When the situation comes that the users of the Gerontology Center are closed for six months due to the epidemic, then friends show up – the Government of the Republic of Serbia, the Provincial Government, the City of Subotica, as well as non-governmental organizations. That was the reason for our ASB friends to call us and ask what we needed” – says Nenad Ivanišević, director of the Gerontology Center.

This is not the time we we ask for food and medicine, that time is behind us, but that we need modern video equipment and the Internet, in order to ensure that the physical distance don’t become a social too. Physical separation from family and friends should not be a social, they should be more involved in events and communicate with them as much as possible. The Gerontology Center is the first in Serbia to introduce video calls, but so far they have only been on the phone. Now it will be on two big screens – computer and television, in order to be heard and seen even better. We have been cooperating with the Gerontology Center and City of Subotica for years. This is a great help to users, but also to employees who take care of them and often call their families instead” – explained Gordan Velev, director of ASB Serbia.

“The Gerontology Center will continue to have great support from the City of Subotica. The emphasis in the next period will be on our oldest fellow citizens and the improvement of social protection“, said Ilija Đukanović, a member of the City Council for Social Protection.

The promotional video shown during the event confirmed the success of this action, which the users of the Center in Subotica welcomed with a smile, desire and willingness to be trained in the use of new equipment, so they can be more often and independently in contact with family and friends.

In addition to this action, the donation also aims to support the education of the oldest citizens in the use of new technologies, and the idea is that users of the centers gain knowledge and experience in basic use of information technology.

ASB, together with the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, conducted this action in the territories of Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, distributing IT equipment worth 62,000 euros.

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ASB is a German aid and welfare organisation, engaged in areas such as civil protection, rescue services and social welfare services. As a non-political organisation, ASB has, since its foundation in 1888, provided rapid and direct help to all those in need of our support.

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