Saturday, 1 October 2022

Croatian Care Home Costs Set to Rise by 20% as Inflation Continues

October the 1st, 2022 - Croatian care home costs are set to rise in yet another strike to the already shallow pockets of the majority as inflation continues to spiral.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, small pensions and long waiting lists for Croatian care homes have long since been an uncomfortable reality in this country, and a team from HRT was in Zagreb's largest home on Tresnjevka to investigate the situation further, bringing you the experiences of some of the users and residents.

''We've been here for a year and a half, and how long did we wait? Fifteen years. We applied to this care home and then every year we reported that we were still here, that we were alive, but that we weren't willing to be put into a home until the situation arose that we absolutely needed to,'' said Bozica and Slavko, a married couple.

''I've been in this care home for three and a half years now, but I waited eleven years for a place,'' added Stefica Lovrecic.

On average, people wait up to fifteen years for a place in a Croatian care home such as this Zagreb one, and many don't ever manage to get in. Fifteen thousand people are currently on the waiting list for this care home in Zagreb, and Croatia has too few accommodation capacities of this sort in general.

For example, according to the European average, five percent of people over the age of 65 have a secured place in a home - here in Croatia, this number stands at only two percent. There are currently eleven city care homes in Zagreb, 26 family homes and 25 private homes, and they are all completely full.

''Everyone who has the intention of going to a home can submit their applications to all the homes when they turn 65, so that list isn't a true picture of the situation, and when a situation arises, let's say someone has a really great need to be in a care home, and has been applying for a couple of years, then we do find a solution for their accommodation in one,'' said Djurdja Novakovic 

''The total capacity of all of the care homes is 6,381 users in the area of ​​the City of Zagreb, of which 63 percent of those residents are housed in our city homes, or more precisely 4,021 users are housed in city homes,'' said the head of the Office for Social Protection, Health, Veterans and Persons with Disabilities of the City of Zagreb, Romana Galic, PhD.

In the Zagreb care homes, the price of accommodation ranges from 1,750 kuna to 7,500 kuna per month, and those amounts are now expected to grow up to twenty percent.

''For now, everything is fine, but if the price goes up a lot, it will be a little more difficult for people, my pension doesn't cover this and my children help me,'' said Milka Grajner, who is currently 82 years old.

''I believe that the government, like any other normal government, will protect us,'' said Mladen Belicza, 80 years old.

Waiting lists and the prices of Croatian care homes

Pavo Corluka from the Croatian Association of Employers said that he doesn't consider waiting lists in retirement homes to be all too serious. He's interested in how many users who need what's known as the fourth level of service are accommodated in these homes, and these are immobile people who need round-the-clock care. He stated that this would actually be a realistic waiting list.

The Croatian Association of Employers has been advocating for the categorisation of the system so that people who are really in need are provided with accommodation as quickly as possible, explained Corluka, adding that doesn't see the price of 1,750 kuna for accommodation in a care home as realistic, while 7,000 kuna would be approximately right. He claimed that the financing of public homes across Croatia hasn't been resolved correctly.

''They're financed by the country's taxpayers, and on the other hand, cheap accommodation is given to people who can pay for it themselves,'' said Corluka, pointing out that the problem of the labour shortage has not yet been taken seriously in this sector, either.

''First and foremost I'm thinking of the medical staff when I talk about this, and we're lacking in this regard when it comes to social care. It's the last activity in which people want to work in their country,'' he said, adding that we must turn to importing labour if we're to keep our heads above water in this sector, as well.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Monday, 19 July 2021

How Do Other Croatian Cities Compare to Zagreb's 29 Social Programmes?

July the 19th, 2021 - Some big changes have occurred since the new Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomasevic took over at the helm of the post-Bandic capital. Just how do other Croatian cities compared to Zagreb's impressive 29 social programmes?

As Marina Klepo/Novac writes, stabilising the capital city's finances will be difficult without interfering with the acquired rights and expenditures planned by the former government in the amount of 12.8 billion kuna. As salaries and material expenditures make up almost 70 percent of the city's budget, it's understandable that the greatest savings can be achieved here. However, other items are not negligible, including compensation to citizens, for which Zagreb is particularly famous when compared to other Croatian cities.

In a statement about social sensitivity, Zagreb's city authorities state that in the 2021-2025 strategy, Zagreb has as many as 29 social protection programmes, which is "significantly higher than the average for cities or larger cities". According to European Union (EU) survey carried out on social programmes in the country, Croatian cities have an average of 7.9 programmes and municipalities have around 4.8.

As such, Zagreb accounts for about 56 percent of all costs of local social protection units, with special emphasis placed on care for pensioners, people with disabilities, children and families. However, of all the programmes, the most expensive is the one intended for parents-educators, which was used by 4,767 people in Zagreb last year and amounted to 4,912 kuna.

It accounts for more than half of all expenditures for social services in the total amount of 877 million kuna. The most numerous are the beneficiaries of the ZET ticket exemption, standing at the high figure of 63,858, followed by disability allowance (14,288) and retirement benefits (7062).

Experts have long warned of the essence of one problem: that residents of wealthier communities should not enjoy greater social protection than those in less developed areas of the country. In the analytical basis for the National Development Strategy until 2030, the World Bank recalls the problem of double inequality, both in an economic and social sense.

In order to improve the system, a number of recommendations has been given. Although decentralisation of the system is desirable because it allows for greater proximity to benefit beneficiaries, equitable regional accessibility would imply a precise assessment of available resources at all levels of government and a clear setting of priorities. This, in turn, implies the designation of services and persons at the city, county and state levels who would continuously exchange relevant data, so that social benefits are received by those who really need them, according to harmonised criteria.

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Friday, 23 April 2021

Chamber: Social Worker Didn't Error in Case of 2.5-Year-Old Child

ZAGREB, 23 April, 2021 - Findings of an inspection in the work of the social worker involved in the supervision of a family whose child died of injuries in the town of Nova Gradiška show that the social worker concerned did no make professional mistakes and that she acted in line with professional protocols.

The expert evaluation of the work of the social worker shows that she did not make mistakes or omissions which could have been conducive to the lethal outcome.

The 2.5-year-old child recently died of the grave injuries caused by domestic violence. The child had been admitted to a Zagreb-based hospital in very serious condition, and despite the efforts of the hospital's staff during her treatment, she succumbed to the injuries.

Following her death, the relevant ministry ordered an expert evaluation of the work of the social welfare centre in Nova Gradiška..

On 19 April, the Croatian Psychological Chamber said that an inspection at that centre showed that the psychologists in charge of the case acted in line with professional standards and measures defined by that centre.

In the period when the violent death happened, the relevant social worker was in self-isolation due to coronavirus.

The child and her family were under the supervision of the social welfare centre in Nova Gradiška for several years.

The family has been under supervision since 2017 and the child, who was given to foster parents for some time, was returned from the foster family to her biological family in line with a decision by that centre.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

President Zoran Milanović: Social Care Must Be a Separate Department

ZAGREB, 7 April, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday that people in charge of the social care system should admit mistakes and take the responsibility for the death of a two-and-a-half-year-old girl caused by domestic violence, adding that there should be a separate government department for social care.

"Yet another tragedy, the death of a girl from Nova Gradiška, caused by domestic violence, has again raised the issue of the efficiency and quality of the social care system in Croatia, in particular care for children," Milanović wrote on Facebook.

He said that this case, for which full responsibility is yet to be established, requires a "serious, systematic and immediate intervention" in the regulation governing social care for those most vulnerable, the children.

"It is questionable whether the present system, which is neglected, can achieve that. The fusion of government departments to give an impression of efficiency has brought about even greater negligence and an absence of supervision from the political, ministerial level," the President said.

He expressed hope that the people in charge of the social care system would have the strength to admit mistakes and take the responsibility, adding that this would be a clear signal that they recognised the problem and wanted to deal with it.

He said that the Ministry of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy should finally start listening to and respecting the opinions and advice of educated and experienced people in caring for the wellbeing of children. The laws and regulations that will be enacted in the future must give priority to children's safety, Milanović said.

He concluded by saying that he was deeply convinced that social care should be a department unto itself rather than integrated into a "non-functioning mega-ministry" as was now the case.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Number of Social Assistance Users in Croatia Drops Because of Emigration

As Novac/Marina Klepo writes on the 26th of October, 2019, in Croatia last year, the guaranteed minimum benefit (which is just a less understood name for social assistance) was received by 1.7 percent of the total population, the lowest share in the last 20 years and probably the lowest share of the population covered by this benefit in the EU.

The reason for the fall in the number and share of social assistance recipients is undoubtedly the large amount of emigration and indeed a certain degree of economic recovery in recent years. However, the figures on the share of recipients by city are perhaps the most forthcoming in showcasing the consequences of many years of unequal development of the state.

Croatia is spatially among the smaller European countries, but the differences between the regions - and often within the regions themselves - are quite incredible: in Knin, for example, 10 times more of the population receives social help than in Šibenik, a mere 50 kilometers away from the county seat, and it's almost 60 times higher than in Pag, Buzet or Korčula. On the island of Pag, 12 out of 5,396 residents receive social assistance, or 0.2 percent of the population. In Obrovac, however, with a population similar to Pag, 242, or 4.2 percent, are on social care, which equals to about 20 times more than in Pag.

Both cities fall under the same Social Welfare Centre in Zadar, a city where the recipient's share is equivalent to 0.6 percent of the population.

The analysis of the share of social assistance recipients clearly spatially divides the state: on the one hand there's the the coast and north of the country, on the other, the east and inland.

In the northern counties - Krapina-Zagorje, Zagreb, and Varaždin - the proportion of recipients in any covered area rarely, if at all, exceeds 1 percent of the population. It is important to note that the proportion of recipients does not refer solely to the territory of the aforementioned cities, but to the territory covered by the social welfare centre in that city, which usually involves a much wider area. This is also explained by the high share of recipients in Čakovec - more than 4 percent - because it also includes poorer Roma settlements.

The city of Knin still has the largest share of recipients, with every 9th inhabitant, or 11.7 percent of them, living on social welfare. Neither city is close to Knin as recipient: Topusko is second with 6.7 percent of recipients receiving this benefit.

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