Final conference on the topic: “Digital services in support of care for elderly people at home”

Final conference on the topic: “Digital services in support of care for elderly people at home” was held in March 2024 in Sofia. Among the guests and speakers were: Acad. Hristo Grigorov – President of the Bulgarian Red Cross, Prof. Dr. Krasimir Gigov – Director General, Mrs. Elka Nalbantova – Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Assoc. Prof. Mihail Okoliyski – Deputy Minister of Health, Mrs. Maria Valova – Head of the Programme Operator of the “Local Development, Poverty Reduction and Improved Inclusion of Vulnerable Groups” Programme, Bjørn Rongevær, Kari Bjørkheim and Elin Eikemo from the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities – partner of the BRC in the project, Dr. Nadezhda Todorovska – Deputy Director General of the Bulgarian Red Cross and Project Manager, Dr. Stoycho Katsarov – Member of the Board of the Centre for the Protection of Rights in Health Care, Mrs. Zornitsa Rusinova – Chairperson of the Economic and Social Council, Mrs. Teodora Lyubenova – State Expert at the Directorate “Social Inclusion” of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, Mrs. Diana Petrova – Director of the Directorate “Control, Monitoring and Licensing of Social Services” at the Agency for Quality of Social Services, Dr. Francis Ode – Chief Physician at Bodo Municipality, Norway. The conference was also attended by representatives of the National Health Insurance Fund, NGOs, beneficiaries of the project and others.

Among the main successes of the project is the introduction of telecare service in Northwestern Bulgaria as part of the system of integrated medico-social services at home, provided in complex with quality and professional care by the teams of the 7 Home Care Centers in the municipalities of Vratsa, Oryahovo, Krivodol, Byala Slatina, Vidin, Montana and Belogradchik. The Control and Communication Centre, established in the town of Vratsa, carried out constant monitoring of various physiological indicators of end users 24 hours 7 days a week, which contributed to the prevention of many risky situations, timely intervention and prevention of complications, as well as to the improvement of the psychosocial status of the elderly. During the whole project period, more than 1200 people received regular home care services, most of them living alone in 34 small and remote settlements in the 7 municipalities, and almost 900 people were involved in the telecare service through the use of two types of personal electronic devices.

In addition to presenting the results achieved, the Bulgarian Red Cross provoked a discussion on the prerequisites for the implementation of telecare service in the future, its application as part of the system of integrated medico- social services, as well as the benefits for the elderly, especially in localities with limited access to health care and social support.

In support of the possibilities for future development were the speeches of the representatives of the two partner ministries – the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, namely due to the fact that telecare is included as a priority in key strategic documents such as the National Strategy on Long-Term Care and the Action Plan for the period 2022-2027 for its implementation. Assoc. Prof. Mihail Okoliyski stressed that this model would help chronic diseases to be treated in a more effective way, especially in localities suffering from lack of health care professionals. Currently, the BRC, together with the Agency for Quality of Social Services, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and other partners, is developing a standard for telecare services in accordance with the requirements of the Regulation on the Quality of Social Services.