Msgr. Paglia proposes prioritizing home care over residential care

The president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Msgr. Vincenzo Paglia, and María Luisa Carcedo, former Minister of Health, Consumption and Social Welfare, defended yesterday in a colloquium at the Pablo VI Foundation giving priority to continued home care over the option of residential care, while advocating freedom of choice for the elderly.

Francisco Otamendi-February 21, 2024-Reading time: 3 minutes
Msgr. Paglia

Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia ©Paul VI Foundation

In a debate moderated by Jesús Avezuela, general director of the Paul VI Foundation, Msgr. Vincenzo Paglia and Maria Luisa Carcedo, permanent councilor of State, reflected on the Charter of the Rights of the Elderly and the Duties of the Community, which was born in Italy as a result of the thousands of elderly people who died in nursing homes in Italy during the Covid pandemic, the high ecclesiastic assured. 

The event was attended, among others, by the Archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal José Cobo, the Bishop of Getafe and president of the Board of Trustees of the Paul VI FoundationGinés García Beltrán, or the president of the Mensajeros por la Paz Foundation, Ángel García.

"Paglia, who chaired a civil commission that, at the request of the Italian government, then presided over by Mario Draghi, "brought to light the contradiction of a society that, on the one hand, knows how to prolong people's lives, but on the other, fills them with loneliness and abandonment". 

– Supernatural LetterThe aim of the law, which also took the form of a law supported by the entire parliamentary arc and endorsed by the government of Giorgia Meloni, is to draw attention to the shortcomings of an unbalanced welfare system that is in itself the cause of so many victims," Paglia pointed out. 

The text proposes "a paradigm shift cultural, organizational and assistance to raise awareness of the rights of the elderly and the duties of society to welcome and improve this stage of life", and establishes three contexts of rights: 1) respect for the dignity of the elderly person; 2) principles and rights for responsible care; and 3) protection for a socially active life.

Loneliness at home

Both experts agreed on the need to prioritize home care over residential care. It is here where affection and memories are kept," and it is "the place that allows one to preserve one's history and prevents physical and emotional health from worsening," said Monsignor Paglia, referring to homes. 

This is evidenced by testimonies collected in the Charter and by the figures so far handled in Italy on the positive economic results of a prioritization, which saves a lot of money for the State, he pointed out. "Residence means a very strong loss of freedom, it makes the life history come to an end" and, on many occasions, it is done against the person's will."

The biggest problem

The former Minister of Health was also in favor of the model of home care, but for this, she said, "it is necessary to rethink how to coordinate social and health services, seeking the commitment of society as a whole", rethink public services and care for the elderly; also rethink their active life, delaying the retirement age where possible; and rethink urban planning or "universal and cognitive accessibility", among many other things. In fact, the unification of social assistance and health care was the subject of most of the meeting.

After the first interventions, the Director General of the Paul VI Foundation, Jesús Avezuela, asked if they saw home care as a priority when the drama of loneliness, which leads many people to die alone in their own homes, is becoming more and more entrenched in society. It is true that loneliness "is the greatest problem of our times," Paglia continued, but it is so at all stages: children, young people and the elderly.

A new responsibility

For this reason, in his opinion, "it is necessary to rediscover a new responsibility in all ages". And this also means that "the elderly should be aware that they are political subjects, they should contribute actively and rediscover a new vocation". The problem is "that the elderly have accepted to be discarded".

María Luisa Carcedo, for her part, referred to the "accompanied" loneliness in which not only the elderly find themselves, but also and especially children and adolescents who live glued to screens or in families where there is no conversation. 

"We have to come to the conviction," he insisted, "that living together, social relationships, also help to keep the mind active and avoid that accompanied loneliness," which is, according to Msgr. Vincenzo Paglia, a symptom of an egomaniacal society, where the cult of the self is favored. For this reason, he called for "a cultural change" that unites different generations, grandparents and grandchildren, and that leads to the building of bridges between all the administrations.

Right to quality palliative care

The last point of the colloquium focused on the right to have the right to have palliative care The aim is to avoid euthanasia, which represents, as Monsignor Paglia pointed out, "a failure and an irresponsibility for a number of people who do not want to suffer. "People do not want to die, they want to stop suffering". That is why he called for a palliative care that bet on life. 

On the contrary, former minister Carcedo was in favor of the euthanasia law, which reflects "an exercise of individual freedom, and this is written in the law". The debate was left for a future occasion.

The authorFrancisco Otamendi

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