Almost one million people in Uganda are over 65 years of age. Their medical care is bleak: hypertension, stroke, diabetes, heart diseases, trachoma and blindness are common.

However, 85% of the elderly do not have any form of social security and cannot afford to be treated. Those who are fortunate enough to receive some form of medical attention are often discharged from health centres still in need of substantial nursing care at home.

The burden of care lies heavily on the shoulders of women and children who help their family members in the best way they can without any support or medical experience. These caregivers do not know how to protect themselves from contagious infections or how to correctly handle medication or care for septic wounds.


Taking good care

St John Uganda trains caregivers in home based care. Family members learn how to give assistance to elderly, disabled and terminally-ill people in their home environment, using locally available resources. This includes physical, psychological, palliative and spiritual support. Caregivers are identified through local community leaders and encouraged to attend half-day training courses, conducted by St John volunteers.

Priority is given to those who are already taking care of family members so that their knowledge and skills are boosted and they are then able to provide better care.

Caregivers learn how to protect themselves and other members of their families from infectious diseases such as HIV /AIDS, tuberculosis and hepatitis. The training also includes first aid elements.

The carers pass on their new skills and information to communities, enabling them to provide better care for people who need assistance.

Most people in Uganda cannot afford long stays in a hospital. Home caring and nursing is often the only possible form of care for elderly or disabled people.

But what is even more important is that the care at home is done by someone who loves you, because she or he is family.

Patients are much happier in their own homes with their loved ones closer to them. They don’t want to be cared for by strangers or nurses, but by people close to their hearts, who better understand their worries and needs.

Justine Nakintu
Programme Officer for St John Uganda


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