“We need to change the partnership among government, private institutions,
and the public to help our nation cope with the realities of not just aging,
but longer life in the twenty-first century.”

William D. Novelli 

Since December 2004 Hanganak Non-Governmental Organization sponsored by the Armenian Women’s Welfare Association (A.W.W.A.-Inc.) has implemented a project to provide medical and social support to the elderly people living alone in Stepanakert.  The project was conducted to address the basic health and social needs of the elderly by delivering comprehensive social and health care services along with the provision of pharmaceuticals and food. The project has undergone three phases before starting the general project that was launched in December 1st, 2005.

The First Phase, Pilot Project, lasted from November 29th, 2004 to May 31st, 2005. During the Pilot Project 128 elders living alone in Stepanakert received social and medical care provided by the proposed services. In confines of the pilot project pre- and post-testing surveys were conducted. The primary objective of pre-testing survey was to gather baseline database on self-reporting health status, utilization of health care facilities, health expenditures of the targeted population along with key socio-demographic information. Results from the pre-testing survey were compared with the results of the post-testing survey, which was conducted at the end of the project for evaluation of the Pilot in terms of its feasibility and effectiveness.

Evaluation of the pilot project was appreciated as very effective and based on the estimates of the Pilot Project a preliminary project was developed for the next six months.

Read more about findings of the Pilot Project here

The second phase – lasting from June 1st, 2005 to November 30th, 2005 –was called Transitional Project. By the end of the Second Phase the final list of the elders living alone in Stepanakert was developed. One of the important objectives of the Transitional Project was to define the proper number of medical and social care providers. The medical staff was gradually reduced from 10 physicians to one, and nurses from 12 to 6. Hence, during the general project the medical staff was intended to include 1 physician and several nurses on the assumption that 1 nurse serves about 50 patients. Regarding the social services it was suggested that one social care provider would serve at most 12-15 housebound patents.

The last phase – General Project– was developed and presented to the A.W.W.A.-Inc. in late October 2005 and was approved for the next 12-month period – from December 1st, 2005 to November 30, 2006. The project included the neediest 175 elders living alone in Stepanakert. The initial list was revised and updated several times because of drop-outs (mostly deaths) observed during the year. In late 2006 Hanganak NGO submitted a new proposal for the year 2007 with increased number of beneficiaries up to 200. The request for proposal was approved by the A.W.W.A.-Inc. in November, 2006. Thus, the Elderly Project has been delivering services to 200 beneficiaries living in Stepanakert since December 1st, 2006 up to 2020.

When the Elderly Project in Stepanakert was already considered a successful project, Hanganak NGO started thinking about expanding the project to the regions. For the beginning, the organization started looking for ways to implement the Elderly Project in Shushi. The geographical location of Shushi made it easy to implement a pilot project to understand how such a project would work in the regions. The aim was to include the remaining regions in the future having in hand all possible challenges.

In 2016 Hanganak NGO presented a proposal to the All Armenian Fund to implement the Elderly Project in Shushi. A 6-month pilot project was suggested to run to assess the costs and basic needs of the elderly in rural areas. One of the important objectives of the Pilot Project was to define the proper number of medical care providers in regions based on the number of beneficiaries and specifics of the rural areas. The Pilot Project in Shushi lasted from October 1st, 2016 to March 31st, 2017. The list of beneficiaries was obtained from the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. Thus, the number of beneficiaries in Shushi reached 30. The majority lived in Shushi and only three of them lived in villages.

Based on the pilot project and the geographical location and convenience of Shushi project it was decided to involve the physician occupied in Stepanakert Elderly Project to serve Shushi’s beneficiaries. In addition a nurse from out-patient department of Shushi Regional Hospital was hired for the Shushi Project as a serving nurse on part-time bases. Thus, a physician and a nurse were providing medical services. As for social services and/or support in everyday activities, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs takes that responsibility. The Shushi Project has been continued just after the Pilot Project. The main sponsors of the Project were Mr. Zaven Ken Darian and Mr. David Mkrtchyan. They donate their contribution through the All Armenian fund. The project was progressing well and unfortunately interrupted by the Third Artsakh War.

In 2019 there was another opportunity to expand the program. The organization again applied to the Armenian Women’s Welfare Association and submitted a proposal to increase the number of beneficiaries in Stepanakert and include Askeran region in the project. Two separate proposals were presented; for Stepanakert and for Askeran region. The project in Askeran region was to start with a pilot project. As for Stepanakert Elderly Project the number of beneficiaries was increased and reached 234.

Both proposals were approved. And in 2020 Askeran Project launched by conducting survey to assess basic needs of the beneficiaries. The implementation of the Askeran Project was complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it was still possible to complete the pilot project and continue it until the beginning of the war. The project benefited 43 beneficiaries, 11 of whom were residents of Askeran and the rest were villagers.

During the 44-day war, the beneficiaries of both Stepanakert and Askeran region were mainly evacuated to different settlements of Armenia. And only within 1-2 months after the end of the war they were able to return to their homeland.

After the war, the organization faced new challenges. It was necessary to understand the exact number of lonely elderly people evacuated from the deported areas to Stepanakert and to organize their medical and social assistance as soon as possible. With the joint efforts of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs of the Republic of Artsakh and the ICRC, it was possible to compile accurate lists.

Currently the Elderly Project serves 320 beneficiaries from Stepanakert, Askeran region and refugees from Shushi, Martuni and Hadrut regions.