Social centres can provide various kinds of help in difficult life situations, a rehabilitation course on up to date fitness equipment or a psychologist’s services. But this is not the full service list. Moscow centres include winter gardens, juice bars, sensor rooms, gyms, billiards rooms and cinema clubs. Residents don’t go just to receive help but to also to listen to music, to read, learn something new or to talk.
The Southern Administrative Area has a centre like this. The Zyablikovo branch at the Tsaritsyno Local Social Service Centre opened this winter at 25A Musy Dzhalilya Street. The four-storey building has become a true gift for Zyablikovo residents who had to go to Brateyevo before. Now everything they need is close by.
Today the staff at this and other social centres mark their professional day. On 8 June 1701 Peter the Great issued the decree On Allocating Housing Facilities for the Poor, the Sick and the Elderly. Albina Tikhanova, head of the Zyablikovo branch, describes what a social service centre is today and the help it can provide.
Question: Why was the Zyablikovo District chosen for a new social service centre?
Albina Tikhanova: Zyablikovo is one of the most populated districts in Moscow, and the social service centre was located in a small space on the ground floor in a residential building. Now we have a large local centre. There was no social centre before, and Zyablikovo residents had to go to Brateyevo. Now they can receive all the services at the same place.
We have other departments here, too, such as an inpatient facility, rehabilitation for people with disabilities and rehabilitation equipment issue point. We have excellent medical, hypoxytherapy and speech-therapy rooms, a good juice bar and a sensor room where our psychologist provides services.
The new centre in Zyablikovo has the capacity to serve over 500 people a day
We thought about what departments to open. The centre was built with consideration for our needs. For example, we asked for a large events hall: we have a hall with 120 seats where any event can be held. The stage has a ramp for people with limited mobility. There are places for wheelchairs in the front and a make-up room with lockers and mirrors for actors. It is a good centre.
Question: How many people do you work with?
Albina Tikhanova: Our staff assists over 8,000 people from Zyablikovo, with 667 receiving aid at home.
Question: Who comes here most often? Elderly people?
Albina Tikhanova: We mostly provide aid for seniors and people with disabilities. Now we have opened a department for children for disability rehabilitation and have begun working with them. In fact, the Family Planet Centre for Family and Childhood Support works with families with children, but there is no such department there.
We also provide social services for 70 Great Patriotic War veterans as well as 533 homefront workers. Practically all of them receive assistance at home. We always congratulate them, give them gifts, invite them for tours, concerts, tea ceremonies and screenings and call them. Sunday school children make presents for the veterans for Victory Day and other holidays.
Tailoring programmes for individual needs
Question: What services do you provide at home?
Albina Tikhanova: We have four home social assistance departments, which means that social workers call on their wards. We tailor programmes for each of them. For example, someone only need medicines or food, others must be fed three times a day or have their rooms cleaned regularly.
We tailor programmes for the individual
Question: Does the programme change depending on the needs?
Albina Tikhanova: We develop a programme for three years, but we can revise it. For example, if someone starts to feel worse or needs new services, we can add them. People can also reject a service.
In addition, we have opened a new department: Mobile Social Service. For example, if someone gets into trouble, has a broken leg and can’t get around, a social worker will come with drugs or food, arrange an appointment at the clinic, help the patient get there and feed him or her. We try to provide high-quality social assistance in a timely manner.
Question: Who controls quality and how?
Albina Tikhanova: A Social Service Quality Control Department opened at the Tsaritsyno Social Service Centre on 1 December 2015. We also call and visit our wards from time to time. All four department heads, including me, are interested in service quality. Everyone has my phone number so we always have feedback.
Breathing mountain air, playing big chess and growing lettuce
Question: How does the inpatient facility work?
Albina Tikhanova: Those elderly people who need aid can receive it from 9 am to 8 pm. We have developed a cultural programme for them: for example, a concert is being held right now. We also have resting rooms with chair beds where people can relax, read or watch television during the day while their families are at work.
The hypoxytherapy makes you feel like you’re on a mountain with fresh and healthy air. It improves the immunity function and sleep. This is done if there is no contraindications.
We also have a library, a gym with locker rooms and bathrooms, a computer class and a billiards room. Our visitors can play chess, checkers, lotto, dominos and other table games. The juice bar is always open. We have launched the Year-Round Vegetable Garden project in our winter garden. Now it has four participants and many supporters who use hydroponics to grow lettuce, herbs and flowers. A new hobby has appeared: vertical pictures made with live plants.
Question: Are meals available in the inpatient facility?
Albina Tikhanova: There are three kinds of free hot meals: for those in the inpatient facility, for those who receive aid at home and also a cafeteria for veterans.
Question: What other assistance can residents receive at the social centre?
Albina Tikhanova: We have opened a rehabilitation equipment issue point. It has adult diapers, liners, wheelchairs and canes. There was no such department before, and people with disabilities had to go to Brateyevo.
Advanced rehabilitation equipment
Question: How are people with disabilities rehabilitated?
Albina Tikhanova: We have a rehabilitation hall for people after traumas or strokes. We use the Russian Ortorent machine, similar to Motomed (a pedal exerciser for musculoskeletal patients – mos.ru) to improve leg function. It has various programmes both for adults and children (including games). If the machine senses that the patient has difficulties, it begins rotating the pedals on its own. The legs signal the brain about activity, and immobility in the joints and leg muscle stiffness decreases. Unlike Motomed, Ortorent can access the internet. This function helps patients at home hold videoconferences with instructors on Skype.
There is also a mechanotherapy table in this room, which not all centres have. The patient traces figures with one hand and spins the handle, thus exercising wrist action. This helps improve fine motor skills and uses both cerebral hemispheres, for example after a stroke.
We teach social workers and relatives to tend to bedridden patients
We have a school where we teach social workers and relatives the basic skills needed to tend to bedridden patients. We invite doctors from polyclinics who demonstrate how to turn patients over without hurting them to avoid bedsores, how to change diapers, what to use for the skin and what bedclothes to choose. This is the most popular and necessary course.
In addition, psychologists work with the patient’s relatives. The illness of a close person is a difficult time for them, so we help those who need it.
Dances, cinema and New Year’s fireworks
Question: What events does the centre host?
Albina Tikhanova: There is no cinema in the Zyablikovo District. The centre has a new movie theatre which can also host festive events and concerts. Now local residents can come here to watch old films. We take residents’ request into consideration when making the programme. On Victory Day we watched the parade on Red Square with the veterans.
On New Year’s Eve we remained open for lonely locals until morning. We celebrated the New Year in a warm and cozy atmosphere (we danced around the fir tree, held an entertaining quest, a concert and fireworks).
We work to improve the quality of life
Elderly people really need communication. We work to prolong an active life and make it more interesting and active for lonely people not to feel left out but to have a chance to use their potential. This is a time of new opportunities.
Question: This is the Moscow Longevity programme motto.
Albina Tikhanova: Yes, the senior generation finally has time to do what perhaps they have always dreamt of. Today the city provides this opportunity for free.
Question: What classes do you hold under the Moscow Longevity programme?
Albina Tikhanova: Qigong, Zumba Gold, IT classes, English, Nordic walking, Pilates, art classes, vocal lessons, crafts…
Crafts is a very interesting class. They are different. It can be knitting, fulling, decoupage or something else. No one leaves a class empty-handed: everything made during a lesson can be taken home to show relatives or friends or to give as gifts.
Now we plan to introduce express courses on various drawing techniques.
Question: Which classes are the most popular?
Albina Tikhanova: IT and English.
Question: How many people are in the Moscow Longevity programme?
Albina Tikhanova: Over 1,000 people have submitted applications for the programme. For example, when it started only nine took up Qigong, and now we have two groups with 50 members each.
Yoga and beauty parlour: Big plans
Question: What plans does the centre have for the future?
Albina Tikhanova: A coach has volunteered to hold yoga classes. We also plan to open a beauty parlour. Women (or men) with social benefits can get a haircut or a hygienic manicure and pedicure.
Working in social services is a conscious choice
Question: How did you begin working in this area?
Albina Tikhanova: I have always worked with people, and I wanted to be useful for them. Social service is my conscious choice. This work is very interesting and creative. There is a lot of potential: the new building opened and new opportunities appeared. People trust me: they have elected me municipal deputy. This is high praise for my work. I am in the right place here; I get positive feedback when people thank me for the improvements in their lives. This is why I will continue to do everything I can for them.