Towards the end of his life, my father lived in a nursing home.
This week, after I saw Hebrew language reports from Yedioth Ahronoth and Channel 2 on the current state of nursing homes in Israel, I was completely shaken. The reports revealed that some residents are being physically and verbally abused, are tied to their chairs and beds, and are completely neglected and humiliated. Time and again we see that when crucial care services are outsourced by the government to for-profit companies, serious human rights violations can occur. Clearly, the Health Ministry has failed miserably at overseeing the care provided in these facilities.
This is merely a symptom of the elder care crisis in Israel. While the problems in these specific facilities will be addressed, what is really needed is an urgent systemic overhaul, rather than a pinpointed solution. This is true especially because the number of elderly individuals in our society is expected to continue to grow. We therefore need to insist on dignified living for our elderly parents, grandparents and loved-ones, for their sake and for our own.
We at ACRI, along with partner organizations, have been working hard over the past year to promote a detailed reform for elderly care, in accordance with principles recommended by the Ministry of Health. Via this reform, we aim to improve services for the elderly and the families who care for them, allow our parents and grandparents to age with dignity in their homes and communities, and prevent financial and emotional strain on family members. If we must move our loved ones to a skilled nursing facility, then we must ensure that HMOs include long-term hospitalization as part of their basic services.
Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon was interviewed by various media outlets following the investigative reports. He expressed shock, and stated how seriously he sees the situation. Unlike us, who can only feel appalled by the results of the investigations, Minister Kahlon can solve the problem.
But elderly care reform, which Health Minister Yaakov Litzman seeks to promote, is stuck because the Finance Ministry lacks the willingness to advance it. Despite promises and assurances, decision makers – Minister Kahlon among them – are dragging their feet, neglecting the plight faced by the elderly and their families and the much-needed reform.
ACRI has asked our Hebrew speaking supporters to write to Minister Moshe Kahlon and demand that he stop avoiding this issue. You can help too. Read ACRI’s detailed reform, and donate to help us make the change our families deserve.
Adv. Sharon Abraham-Weiss
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel