SAN JUAN CITY, LA UNION – As part of its continuing efforts to provide better care and services for the elderly, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) through its Field Office (FO) in Region I will construct a two-storey residential care facility in this city for older persons who have been neglected and abandoned by their families.

The facility, which has a budget of P12 million for its construction, will rise at Sta. Rosa De Lima Street, Barangay Ili Norte.

“The DSWD is doing its best to provide better care and services to our senior citizens. Apart from building new centers, we are also slowly improving our current residential facilities. We need to take good care of the elderly —  we should show them our respect and gratitude after they have dedicated their early lives to their families and communities,” DSWD Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo said.

“We have to continuously exert effort to improve the government’s assistance and support to senior citizens. A decent and humane society will always show respect and care for its most vulnerable sectors, and these include the sector of senior citizens,” she said.

“With this facility, we hope to give neglected senior citizens a place to stay and through the residential care programs and services enjoy a life atmosphere that resembles that which exists in typical homes,” said DSWD FO I Assistant Regional Director for Administration Nora D. Dela Paz.

The Local Government Unit (LGU)  welcomed the construction of the center.

“We are very lucky to have this DSWD project in San Juan. Ket sapay koma ta ited tayo iti naan-anay nga panangtaripato tayo kadagiti lolo ken lola tayo (Hopefully, we will be able to give the necessary care to our grandfathers and grandmothers) as they reach their twilight years,” San Juan LGU Executive Asst. Oscar Ganaden Jr.was quoted as saying.

During the project’s groundbreaking ceremony, La Union Provincial Social Welfare and Development Officer (PSWDO) Ranilo P. Ipac shared that the provincial government is very willing to partner with the DSWD in improving the provision of services to older persons, especially now that  “Filipino culture is changing.”

According to Ipac, many Filipino families today are becoming more nuclear.

“Before, families are usually extended, with members living with and taking care of the elderly. But now, they are becoming more nuclear,” he added.

Ipac said that this changing Filipino culture is evident on a survey that was undertaken by the province’s PSWDO three years ago, which showed that around 700 senior citizens in La Union are living alone.

The residential center will be managed by the La Union PSWDO under the technical supervision of DSWD FO I. A memorandum of agreement will be signed by the provincial government and the field office for the management of the facility.

“We are very fortunate that we have the province of La Union and the LGU of San Juan as our partners in improving the welfare of the elderly in our region. I hope that this initiative will be replicated in other provinces,” DSWD FO I Regional Director Marcelo Nicomedes J. Castillo said.

Other DSWD centers for elderly

Once constructed, the facility in La Union will be DSWD’s  fifth residential care center for the elderly. The other centers are the Golden Reception and Action Center for the Elderly and other Special Cases (GRACES) in Bago Bantay, Quezon City; Home for the Aged in Tanay, Rizal; Haven for the Elderly in Talon-Talon, Zamboanga City; and Home for the Aged in Tagum City, Davao del Sur.

GRACES is currently the home to 310 senior citizens and spinal cord injury (SCI) clients referred by the Philippine Orthopedic Center-Department of Rehabilitation Medicine (POC-DRM); while the Home for the Aged in Barangay Sampaloc, Tanay provides temporary care to 227 abandoned, neglected and unattached older persons 60 years old and above.

On the other hand, the Home for the Elderly in Zamboanga City, which currently has 48 residents, is being operated by the DSWD-Field Office IX in partnership with the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites (OCDS), while the Home for the Aged in Visayan Village, Tagum City provides about 80 older persons with institutionalized residential care programs and services such as counseling, case conference, family dialogue, group session, homelife care, and medical care, among others. ###