On 31 May 2023, Deputy Ombudsman Dr Dijana Možina Zupanc participated at the meeting of the Commission for Petitions, Human Rights and Equal Opportunities, where the issue of the elderly was discussed. She presented basic findings determined by the institution of the Ombudsman during the processing of complaints connected to the elderly and about which he reports annually in the National Assembly.
In recent days the institution of the Ombudsman has been closely monitoring the discussion and the proposals related to the Long-Term Care Act, where it especially advocates the process of deinstitutionalisation and at the same time warns about the importance of effective institutional care where needed. The Ombudsman is worried about the manner in which such a complex part of legislation is being adopted; the primary concern is the unreasonably short deadline for public discussion and inter-ministerial coordination.
The Deputy brought attention to the poor economic position of the elderly and their increasing poverty. “We support and call for the preparation of measures for the improvement of the position of pensioners. We are especially alert to the issue of intersectional discrimination, when discrimination based on several different personal circumstances occurs. Especially vulnerable, for example, are older women with low pensions who live alone and are all too frequently exposed to the poverty threshold and social exclusion. We warn that in such cases decision-makers are, based on (disaggregated) data, obliged to adopt measures of positive discrimination,” said Dr Možina Zupanc.
The Ombudsman also devotes attention to the issue of digital literacy, since it has been revealed through the increasing number of complaints and comments that digital literacy is indeed welcome but also brings about new distress and even forms of exclusion of people and thus limits access to services for those elderly people who are less skilled in the use of new technologies and apps. The Ombudsman highlights that public services, such as making doctor’s appointments or paying for parking, also need to be provided in other manners, for example over the telephone or payment with banknotes or coins, and not only through various applications.
The Ombudsman also detects more intolerance towards the elderly. He estimates that to bring about a reduction in the occurrence of ageism, programmes for raising awareness among the elderly about their rights and about the prevention of violence, discrimination, and the importance of financial autonomy and the like are crucial.
The Human Rights Ombudsman also supports the efforts of the United Nations for the drafting of the Convention on the Protection of the Elderly; unfortunately, the Ombudsman believes the talks are running too slowly. “We salute the work of Slovenia which is among the most active supporters of the convention in the negotiations, though we stress that this support should also be reflected in the adoption of concrete measures at home. After all, we at the Ombudsman have made several recommendations regarding the elderly, many of which unfortunately still await their realisation,” added the Deputy Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman also actively promotes intergenerational solidarity and dialogue, since only such cooperation in society can bring greater quality of life for all. He expects the state and municipalities to actively support activities promoting such collaboration.