MANILA — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will include in its priorities the improvement of its centers and institutions, especially the Golden Reception and Action Center for the Elderly and Other Special Cases (GRACES) Home for the Elderly in Bago Bantay, Quezon City.
“I go to GRACES several times a week these days. It is now top priority of the department, where all our resources will be put forth to make sure this Center will be the haven it was meant to be,” DSWD Assistant Secretary for Centers and Institutions and Other Special Directives, Lorraine Marie Badoy, said in a statement released Tuesday.
GRACES, one of the DSWD’s four residential facilities for the elderly, takes care of at least 300 senior citizens who have been neglected or abandoned by their families.
Badoy’s team and a number of volunteers have been organizing a regular “Kamustahan with Lolos and Lolas” at GRACES.
Over the weekend, Badoy was joined by outgoing DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, department officials and employees in a “Kamustahan” with the elderly at the center.
They dined with the residents, bonded with them through singing and dancing, and gifted them with snack packs.
GRACES can only accommodate up to 200 occupants, but the number of its residents has increased as senior citizens rescued from the streets by social workers and local government units (LGUs) have been brought to the center. This resulted in congestion and the lack of medical equipment, such as wheelchairs and walkers, as well as beds for the residents.
“I thank Sec. Judy Taguiwalo. It was she who gave me this assignment. I heard how she wept when she saw GRACES and Jose Fabella Center for the first time. And when I went, I saw clearly why she did. These centers had fallen by the wayside and had ceased to be the havens for the least of us that they were meant to be,” Badoy said.
She said the department is creating a crisis management team to take over these two centers, and has joined hands with the private sector, LGUs, nursing/medical schools and corporations “to ensure we give this project our best shot”.
Badoy added that they welcome possible partnerships and volunteer work for the improvement of the center. Those who are interested may coordinate with her office at 709-1467 or 931-8101 local 420 and 421.
Meanwhile, in her one-year stint as social welfare chief, Taguiwalo has appealed to the public to help the department provide better care and services to the elderly.
“The government should primarily respond to the needs of our residential facilities. However, the assistance that it can provide is limited. Given this, it is also important that even private citizens and the rest of our communities help and pitch in so we can provide better care and services for our elderly, who rely on our compassion and assistance,” she added.