Citizens’ centre promises to give older persons quality care, build certified skills – DG

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By Sani Idris

Dr Emem Omokaro, the Director-General (DG) of the National Senior Citizens Centre (NSCC), says older persons in Nigeria should expect quality care, where geriatric care giving will become a certified skilled area.

Omokaro disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) after the final validation of National Occupational Standard in geriatric social care on Friday in Kaduna.

She said that the NSCC would cause geriatric social care skills to be admitted into the national skills qualification framework.

“We also want to develop an occupational standard which will be the minimum in certification of caregivers and in accreditation of care agencies, facilities, training providers, centres and all that goes into care quality assurance.”

She therefore, said older persons should expect the coming of quality care, where Nigeria would begin to build a skilled paid workforce for geriatric care.

She said the NSCC had signed an MoU with the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) to develop quality assurance in geriatric social care.

Omokaro noted that MoU was in line with the NBTE’s mandate as a regulatory body in charge of skills acquisition.

She also noted that in Nigeria, traditionally, care of older persons was seen as family concern.

In that regard, she therefore lamented that older persons were left with a standard of care not developed with a national benchmark and in the hands of any person.

She also said that global trends had affected care giving, where migration and urbanisation among other factors left a huge vacuum on the care of older persons.

According to her, because the care is not standardised, and caregivers are not trained or certified, the older persons suffered abuse.

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She, therefore, noted that the NSCC had the mandate to identify and cater for the needs of the older persons.

She mentioned the needs to include health and social care.

“It is a flagship initiative to bring professionalism and sanity in the area of care for older persons and a long term care system for them.”

Further speaking on the MoU with NBTE, she said the NSCC wanted to cause caregiving for older persons to be recognised as a skill.

Omokaro noted that the NSCC would ensure that all the care giving agencies that sprang up out of necessity were certified and all the caregivers and operators trained.

“Henceforth, caregiving is going to be a certified skilled area with career progression up to HND for whoever chooses the line.

“It is a whole geriatric industry that is springing up for employment in the caregiving industry,”she said.

The DG said the NSCC as a baby agency, had been able to develop a strategic road map on ageing.

“So, 14 years from now, we know the direction Nigeria is going. We have operationalised the national policy which means we have a national action plan on ageing.

“We have also developed flagship programmes on income generation and have empowered older persons that are artisans, to improve the lives of older persons,”she said.

Speaking about the NCSS, she said it had developed a continued engagement programme.

She explained that in the programme, retired professionals and technocrats in any area such as Diplomats and Armed Forces among others, could upload their profiles on the portal, stating their certifications, skills and areas of interest where they wanted to continue to engage.

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She also explained that the portal provided opportunities for existing organisations that required the service of the older persons in any area, to keep them moving.

“We have also been able to obtain presidential executive directive for the accelerating enrollment of older persons in obtaining their National Identification Number which is NIMC’s statutory mandate.

“Also, we are working with NIMC to issue multipurpose identity cards that will be priority access based to recognise older persons in accessing social services.”

On NSCC area of critical concern, Omokaro said abuse and violence against older persons were inhumane, which made the centre develop a campaign on elder justice which is carried out through the media.

She said the campaigns were also carried out through institutions of elder justice clubs in secondary schools to create awareness and prevent older persons abuse.

The DG also said the centre was working with The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) by using the
Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law (VAPPL), to ensure remedy and rescue where elder abuse occurred.

She explained that through NAPTIP, NCSS had a toll free line when incidences of older persons abuse occurred.

“Through our partnership with NAPTIP, we deploy the call center and it now activates the NAPTIP squad for remedy and rescue,” she said.

She noted that the perpetrators of the older persons abuse could be prosecuted, adding that through the partnership, they had successful incidences where perpetrators were arrested and faced the law.

She added that the NSCC developed information, education and communication materials in three major languages which they distributed .

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She also said the NCSS developed a stakeholders consultative forum on ageing across the country who were their mechanisms to reach out to the states.

She explained that the forum helped them advocate to the state governments for domestication of the NSCC Act.

According to her, once the acts are domesticated, the state governments can create a central body or entity like the NSCC where they could have a focal institution on issues of older people.

She described the issues of older persons as multi-sectoral, noting that when the states aligned with the NSCC, it would stretch issues of older persons to be a development issue, not a small welfare issue.

“The consultative forums are our very necessary mechanisms because they are involved with us through programmes, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

“They are in fact, our independent monitors in all the states,” she said.

The DG appealed to the state governments to ensure inclusive development for equity and human rights of older persons not to be left behind.

“The only way to ensure inclusivity and universality in any social development is to create their legal policy institutions which the Federal Government did in passing the NSCC bill into a law.

“So doing, if the states do the same, it will serve as a legal entity that will compel multi-sectoral development,” she said.(NAN)

Edited by Idris Abdulrahman

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