March 2016

Daily assistants

Smaller and smaller families, frequent moves, relatives who live far away – there are lots of reasons why people in need of assistance are often alone. That is why a reliable neighbourhood assistance system is becoming more and more important: it is replacing the family network. We present two models.

Susi Limacher, assistant and President of the Hallau Neighbourhood Assistance Association

Frau Portrait limacher Traditional neighbourhood assistance in Hallau

“My idea for a neighbourhood assistance association was welcomed with open arms three years ago by the villagers: dozens of them supported me by becoming members. This meant we could afford a coordinator right from the start. She establishes the initial contact between those providing assistance and those in need of it. Afterwards, the two parties make their own arrangements. About thirty men and women – the oldest is 97 years old – are committed to helping the inhabitants of our village. They keep people company, help them with shopping or assist them with administrative duties. Free of charge, of course. On the other hand, we do not offer housework or gardening; we do not want to compete with commercial businesses. Assisting in the neighbourhood is an enriching experience for me too: it enables me to give time and love to others.”

Susanna Fassbind, Co-President of the Kiss Switzerland Association

Frau Portrait Modern neighbourhood assistance in the Kiss model

“I initiated the Kiss (Keep it smart and simple) care model, not least for personal reasons: like 38 percent of pensioners, I only have my Old Age and Survivors’ Insurance to live on. At the same time, it is difficult for many very elderly people to stay in contact with others; their social environment shrinks. What if I need assistance at home? The aim of “Kiss – time remains valuable” is to encourage mutual support through neighbourhood assistance involving time credits. The idea: volunteers help both young and old people to manage their daily lives. Later on, they can receive assistance themselves based on how much time they invested. In other words, it is moneyless pension provisioning. The advantage being that time never loses its value. Since the Swiss association was founded in 2011, three local offshoots have been established and five more are in the process of being set up.