What we do
The peculiar characteristics of assistance at home are the personal relationship, the gratuity, the continuity, the flexibility, the team work and the deployment of all the resources available.
The personal relationship:
Friendship, expresses as closeness, is the way that allowed us to penetrate deeply into the world of the elderly that we met not as a category of “assisted people” but as persons. The building up of a mature personal relationship, relationship of mutual fidelity is the essential premise to every action because it allows us to understand individuals not as a member of a category but as persons with their special story. Through friendship and personal relations it is possible to obtain that meeting between different generations that would be impossible or difficult otherwise.
Gratuity distinguishes this friendship that never looks for a personal interest and has no other aim besides the good of others. It is precisely gratuity that generates an approach without precedence that does not judge, that is faithful and patient, that does not look for an immediate result or a personal return. It allows to consider needs and desires of the individual not according to an institutionalised approach nor pre-codified or general answers.
The presence of the Sant’Egidio Community in the elderly world is characterised above all by a continuity of the relationship with the elderly that is never “discharged”. We have come to know many elderly and we have followed them for over fifteen / twenty years. The constant and continuous relationship between the aged and the young has become, in fact, a fundamental characteristic of our service.
Often in going through old age, the elderly experiment, with the deterioration of their physical being, a shift from a public service to another and are forced to change important reference points at the most critical times. Continuity is for the elderly a guarantee to live longer. The lasting character of friendship over the years is often valued as the only indispensable point of reference on occasion of moments of crises and difficulties.
Continuity also requires being available and the ability to modify and adapt our help in time according to the changing situation of the elderly. This flexibility allows us to respond immediately to diverse needs. For example our presence in case of necessity can become available 24 hours.
No volunteer, even if he has a close personal relationship with the elderly, acts alone. There are common moments of sharing that allows others to come to know the personality of the elderly. In case of necessity, many people of the Community become naturally involved.
Deployment of all Resources
Interaction and the co-ordination between all social forces, from informal to institutional ones, represent decisive moments to allow the elderly person to live in his own environment to the end. He can count on the help of his family but also on other services that can take care of particular needs and on a network of many and various contacts. In effect, those who deal with the elderly soon experiments how difficult it is to cope alone the needs of those who are not self-sufficient. Collaboration, co-ordination involving different kinds of assistance, creating a network of solidarity and protective facilities offered by public services, the help of volunteers, the family, the neighbourhood, allows easy solutions. On the other hand it becomes ever more easier that the elderly becomes increasingly alone: who lives close to them are often discouraged from intervening for fear of dealing with a too heavy load. The elderly that has a friend or a point of reference is an elderly that will more easily accept other types of help. When we begin to go and visit an elderly person, with time we notice a conspicuous improvement of the general quality of his relations: neighbours begin to become available for small chores, the family becomes closer and less anxious, and so on. A human fabric of solidarity surrounds an isolated elderly: the gratuity of friendship is a stimulating flash of hope for many.