Because it is important to see the bigger picture and understand things in a wider context, down to Earth sometimes runs articles on whole countries or regions: this puts their specificities and challenges, and action taken, into perspective. After Egypt, we are opening a focus on Brazil and its initiatives in the fields of sustainability and social innovation. Almost a year after this inspiring interview with Leontino Balbo, the head of Brazilian organic sugar production company Native, we will soon be publishing a comprehensive paper on Danone Brazil’s take on bettering its social and environmental impacts. As an introduction, here is a presentation of “Cuidar e viver” (“Care for the Caregivers”), one of the three projects that the Danone Ecosystem Fund supports in Brazil.
Care for the Caregivers and for seniors
As its name suggests, “Care for the Caregivers” is focused on those who work with elderly people. They need support for two main reasons. Firstly, Brazil is now facing a stagnation of its population growth, and as a result its population is ageing:
elderly people (over 65 years old) now represent 11% of the total population, and they will account for 15% of Brazilians in 2025.
Today, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 2.3 million seniors are disabled and need assistance in their everyday lives. Secondly, there is no official acknowledgment of the “caregiving” profession in Brazil: the task is often entrusted to people who are not trained to carry it out to the highest standards (housemaids or unemployed people with low levels of education and skills, for instance). While the country lacks proper infrastructures to cater for seniors, those already working as caregivers are asking for support, training and information.
To tackle the issue, the Danone Ecosystem Fund supports the “Caring for the Caregivers” project, led by Danone Medical Nutrition in partnership with NGO Observatorio da Longevidade Humana e Envelhecimento (OLHE). The goal is to “identify, select, train, and connect to employ as caregivers unemployed women or professionals with low skill levels” and thus help them improve their working conditions and employability. The project wishes to train 1,150 caregivers over the course of five years, and to reach an 80% employment rate for them when they finish the programme. It also helps professionals who are already in the market but need support to secure their careers. In addition to empowering the caregivers, the project contributes to the seniors’ well-being, by ensuring they are taken care of by people who are qualified for the job. The project also contributes to raising awareness on nutritional issues: caregivers are taught about older people’s specific nutritional needs and challenges, and how medical nutrition can efficiently support medical treatments. The teams from the Danone Ecosystem Fund say:
This project is one of the most promising social innovation niches for social development in Brazil, because we are looking forward to achieving professional recognition and we are preparing Brazil for future challenges in elderly care.
In post-industrial countries as well as in countries that are now well developed, efficient and professional care of the elderly is in fact a major challenge for the future.
(Photo ©Alice Vivian)