A woman helps an elderly relative.:: SUR
Statistics highlighting human trauma never fail to attract attention. It has now been revealed that a total of 1,946 people (1,314 in Marbella and 632 in San Pedro) have been waiting for years for help promised by the Junta de Andalucía under the Law of Dependency to materialise.
However not everybody, especially those who apply when they are already very elderly or who have serious medical conditions, is lucky enough to actually receive the care services, the money or the transfer to a centre for the elderly, even though their applications have been approved. Figures recently issued by the Marbella Social Welfare Department show that 264 people (145 in Marbella and 119 in San Pedro) have died while waiting for help to arrive.
Since the scheme came into force the Town Halls, using staff contracted specifically for this purpose and paid with funds from the Junta de Andalucía, have been processing the applications for social assistance. A total of 3,268 people from Marbella and 2,061 from San Pedro have applied since the law, which was expected to ease the burden on many families who have to look after dependent relatives, came into force. At present, nearly 2,800 people in Marbella are receiving some kind of assistance thanks to this law.
However, for the councillor for Social Welfare, Manuel Cardeña, “the numbers are insufficient, especially when there are almost as many people whose applications have been approved but who are still not receiving the assistance,” he says. He believes that the law needs to be revised, so that it takes into account the economic circumstances of applicants before considering their case. “It is not logical that one applicant has money and another doesn’t, but they are treated equally. That is why there is this backlog of applications and why the Junta is now unable to help all these people, even though their applications have been approved,” he insists.
The Junta’s Department of Social Policies admits that it is being slow in dealing with new beneficiaries of the system, but also warns that the care is unsustainable without money from the central government. “Our department is committed to maintaining the services it is already providing,” say sources there, adding that they are giving priority to cases considered to be most urgent.
However, they cannot ignore the effects of the cutbacks applied by Mariano Rajoy’s government, and this year they are receiving 314 million euros less from the State.
“Before, the State and the Junta were each paying 50 per cent of the assistance for dependent people, but the Junta is now paying 72 per cent,” they explain.
Another problem reported by the regional government is the fact that the central government has delayed any help for people whose situation is deemed to be moderate until 2015. The Junta de Andalucía and Marbella Town Hall agree that behind every statistic and every percentage is a human being waiting for a solution.
One example is the case of Patricia C. - her family prefers that her surnames are not revealed. Her mother and sister say they are “desperate”. Patricia is 29 years old and, because of her mental problems, she needs to be admitted to a specialist centre.
The authorities agree that hers is a very serious case and have provided help in the form of a carer who goes to the house. However, Patricia’s sister, Cristina, insists that “she has got worse and we have been trying for two years to get her into a home. My mother and I can’t cope with her here.”
Several serious incidents have made them fear for their safety. “Nor can we pay the 4,000 euros a month that it costs for her to stay at the centre where she has been until now. We have been given some help from the council, but only for one month,” she says.