In a rural district of 54,000 people and only 4 doctors, the public health nurses have no time for home visits. The elderly and disabled of all ages live in dire conditions, without food at the end of the month, bedsores, no way to get to a doctor. Warm Heart's Project Access ensures rural constituents have home care and access to medical care. We bring wheelchairs and safety ramps. As the population ages, there are more elders at risk. Our staff coordinator and volunteers fill the gap.
As people age or are disabled they are sent from the cities to the countryside without families to care for them. Rural communities are not set up to care for them. The problem grows as the general population in Thailand increases at 0.5% per year; the elderly increase by 4% per year. National Eco. Development Board projected Thailand will be an aged society by 2021 - one out of five Thais will be aged 60 or older. By 2031, Thailand will have become a super-aged society - 28% will be elderly.
Project Access works with local government and public health clinics, as well as the village leaders to identify people in need. Currently, people are referred to us through the community leaders, but we periodically do village surveys to ensure that hard cases are made visible. We do not provide medical care but ensure that basic needs are met and that there is personal contact with the outside world. After years of volunteer turnover, we hired a full-time staff person to guarantee continuity.
Our mission is not medical, but caring. We do not believe that being old should be like a prison sentence to solitary confinement. This program identifies elders and disabled people at risk and ensures basic nutrition and access to medical care. We bring fun, music, games, and laughter. We clean bodies, homes, and clothes. We bring warm clothes and food. We do wound care, physical therapy, art therapy, check their medication and take people to the doctor. This sets up a model for rural care.