Marián Franquet, third vice-president and counselor for Social Action of the Cabildo de Tenerife, reviews the keys to the program Connect Seniors, in which the Island Corporation works to improve care for people over 65 and provide an adequate response to the different realities of this group. With this objective, in 2022 the Cabildo has distributed one million euros among the 31 municipalities of the Island to finance preventive activities, which are added to other initiatives promoted from the different insular areas.
-This year the Social Action area of the Cabildo has turned to the elderly in Tenerife through the Conecta Mayores program. What does it consist of?
“The policy for the elderly that we are developing in the Cabildo de Tenerife follows a comprehensive and transversal structure, which goes beyond assistance-type actions. The Conecta Mayores program seeks, in this sense, to help alleviate the inequalities and vulnerabilities suffered by people over 65 and to help them face their aging process with quality of life. To do this, it has two lines of action. The first is the one that connects all the areas of the Cabildo, that is, it optimizes our own resources to make them available to the public. On the other hand, we coordinate with institutions such as town halls, clubs for the elderly and other organizations”.
-What is the strategy that Acción Social follows to support the elderly population?
“We are talking about a very varied population sector, since we have found autonomous elderly people, but also in very complex situations. Taking this into account, from the Social Action area we have improved the existing measures and we have created completely new projects to cover your needs in all areas, especially after the pandemic. For the first time, we have proposed services such as a home help program or a telecare system, in addition to continuing to work to increase the number of residential places for the elderly. We have also carried out the first study to find out the situation of the elderly on the Island”.
-The pandemic was a factor to take into account when updating policies for the elderly. What consequences has COVID-19 had on their lives?
“They were affected in different areas. First, the toilet, because they have a more precarious state of health. Then comes the more social part, which is the most complex. The problems they already had increased significantly, and I’m not just talking about the psychological issue and loneliness or stress from not being able to go out. I’m talking about breaking away from the family many times, not being able to see their children or their grandchildren, all of that made a very important dent. Not going out for two years and maintaining minimal physical activity also had a great impact. And now we are seeing that starting is costing a lot. In the end, they have lost their routine, they are more deteriorated and it is very difficult for them to get back into it. We are still in that process. These people have lost two years and, depending on what ages, that’s a long time. For this reason, it is important to reactivate activities for the elderly as soon as possible through, for example, the granting of direct subsidies to city councils”.
-What does the one million euro grant distributed to the 31 town halls of the island consist of? What was the distribution criteria used?
“It is a subsidy designed to provide resources to all the municipalities of the Island that allow them to launch leisure and free time activities, which are part of their powers, aimed at people over 65 years of age in their municipality, with the objective to alleviate social isolation. What was done was to take that million euros and, with an exclusively mathematical calculation, divide it among the municipalities, taking into account objective demographic criteria, such as the number of elderly people residing in each municipality. Various social factors were also taken into account , such as the age of the older population or the percentage of disabled older people. A 65-year-old person is not the same as a 90-year-old; nor is it a municipality with a high or low percentage of people with disabilities; or if we are talking about a dispersed territory or one with a concentrated population”.