The foreign elderly community are suffering in silence

The Association of Elderly Rights and Mental Health has been working since 2018 to raise awareness
of the suffering of the elderly community in the TRNC, and to contribute to improving their quality of

It is not only the Turkish Cypriot elderly that is suffering due to a lack of regulatory law and social
policy for elders. The foreign elderly community are also feeling the detrimental effects of not having
access to quality elderly health care.

Language barriers mean they are often suffering in silence. Many who become widowed suddenly find
themselves in a vulnerable position, while others find themselves abandoning their dream of living the
last years of their lives here because of not being able to find the care they need.

Since December 2021, the Association of Elderly Rights and Mental Health has been liaising with the
British Residents Society (BRS), which represents 2,500 expats, in order to understand the issues of the
expat elderly community, and plans to reach out to other foreign community groups.

The Association has learned that many elderly foreign residents have no other option than to employ
home carers illegally in what has become an unregulated black market. We have also learned that some
vulnerable elderly have been turned away from care facilities because they do not speak Turkish. Thus,
they face huge private hospital fees for staying in longterm care.

BRS Social Welfare Officer Julian Mawdesley shares vital information about the issues and needs of
the foreign elderly community in the TRNC.

The TRNC has become a diverse country made up of not only Turkish Cypriots, but also a number of
other nationalities who have made this beautiful part of the world their home,” said Mr Mawdesley.

It is currently estimated that there are between 14,000 and 16,000 British expats living in the TRNC.
Apart from students, temporary workers and visitors, the majority of nonCypriots living here are
retired nonworkers who have chosen to live their remaining days in this climate.

The current life expectancy for those living in Europe is 78.2 years which means expats living here
expect to spend many years in the sunshine. It is noticeable numbers of expats returning to their country
of birth towards the end of their life or for medical treatment is reducing, as they wish to spend their
last days in the TRNC, and are happy using the treatment available here.

This then highlights the issue of home care, residential care and end of life care. It would be normal
to expect that a family member who is ill or vulnerable would be looked after by their family, however,
many expats living here do not have that comfort and therefore seek alternative support.

As people age, they generally suffer from ageing and mobility problems and require some form of
assistance, either through medical aids or professional support. Although in the TRNC, medical aids
are easily available, professional home care has been an issue. Expats have had to rely on unregulated,

exprofessionals through recommendations.

Some seeking more longterm support, such as livein care or a placement in a care home, have been
told that this is not possible due to the language barrier and cultural differences. It has to be said that
the standard of care homes in the TRNC is lacking EU standards and appears to be a last resort.

In the EU, community care services are intended to help people who need care and support to live
with dignity and independence in their community, and to avoid social isolation. These services are
aimed at the elderly and those with mental illnesses, learning disabilities and physical disabilities.

Recalling the 1991 United Nations Principles for Older Persons of ‘independence’, ‘participation’,
‘care’, ‘selffulfilment’, and ‘dignity’, the Association of Elderly Rights and Mental Health together
with the British Residents Society call for the following:

  1. The urgent passing of a new care home regulatory law that will set the standards for the care
    homes and the enforcement of this law,
  2. Initiating new government policies to support the development of the elderly care sector in the
    TRNC, with incentives for entrepreneurs to build facilities for elderly care, such as nursing
    homes, assisted living facilities, retirement homes, etc., 
  3. Provide training opportunities for the elderly caregivers in collaboration with the university
    geriatric departments,
  4. Provide access to domestic care via legal, transparent and accessible means so that anyone who
    is ill, vulnerable or has mobility issues can benefit from qualified carers/nurses, visiting the
    patient at their home,
  5. Provide social support for nonTurkish speaking vulnerable elderly as well as multilingual
    staff for care homes, 
  6. Provide access to long term care homes, where vulnerable or terminally ill patients admitted to
    a care institute are treated with dignity and respect. Care homes need to be accessible, regulated,
    sustainable, affordable, welcoming and friendly.


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