The death of 15 senior citizens highlights the situation of old people. The private home business without a license is flourishing.
KIEV taz | Today’s Sunday is the nationwide day of mourning in Ukraine after 15 residents were killed on Thursday in a fire in a retirement home in the eastern metropolis of Kharkiv and eleven others injured or seriously injured had to be admitted to a local hospital.
Immediately after the disaster became known, President Volodimir Zelensky traveled to Kharkiv over the weekend, where he visited survivors and found out about the fire on site. At the same time, he instructed Interior Minister Arsen Avakov to take charge of investigating the disaster personally.
Even the Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko publicly expressed condolences to Ukraine. Prime Minister Denis Schmyhal announced at a special session of parliament the establishment of a special commission of inquiry into the fire. The fire on Thursday was due to the careless handling of electrical appliances, said Attorney General Irina Wenediktova.
Apparently, the home in Kharkiv was not only negligent in handling equipment. The word got around in the neighborhood that the staff hardly paid any attention to the elderly residents. A neighbor reported on TV station TSN that she had observed that women were only lightly dressed in front of the door in the open air at temperatures of minus 15 degrees. One even had bruises on her face.
Four people have now been arrested, including the landlord and the tenant of the premises. But that does not solve the real problem. The fact that President Zelensky made the fire a top priority is also because the fire disaster highlighted the situation of the elderly in Ukraine – a taboo subject up to now.
Lucrative business with retirement homes
According to the Ukrinform news agency, one in five of the approximately seven million old people in Ukraine lives without relatives. At the same time, there are only 65 state retirement homes nationwide, the journalist and co-founder of the ProVita Foundation for Palliative Care, Marharyta Tulup, told the taz. Only those who have no relatives of working age can get a place in them.
In villages, families often get together to rent an apartment for older people, according to Tulup. Many private homes were also set up across the country. The number of such institutions can only be puzzled. Because only facilities that offer medical services are subject to approval. For example, anyone who offers “housing with social benefits” does not need a license, according to Tulup. Such apartments are only allowed to be entered by representatives of the authorities with a court order.
Business with the elderly is always lucrative. In Kharkiv you pay around 300 euros for a bed in a room that you have to share with three other people, reports the Kharkiv journalist Stanislaw Kibalnik from the taz’s assembly.org.ua portal. Depending on the range of services, you have to pay twice or three times as much. There is a lot left for the providers if one takes a price of around 500 euros for a three-room apartment as a basis.
But you can not only earn money from the lives of old people. On the TSN station, a relative wonders where a funeral home got her phone number from. Immediately after the death of her grandmother, she called them in a home and offered his services.