The final conference of the project “Strengthening resilience of older persons and persons with disabilities during COVID-19 and future disasters” was held in the Palace of Serbia. The event gathered more than 70 participants, including representatives from the public sector, academia, the civil sector, independent regulatory institutions, and experts specialized in working with older persons. The conference was organized as the final event of the project coordinated by the Red Cross of Serbia since November 2020, with the support of the European Union and the Austrian Development Agency.

Ljubomir Miladinović, General Secretary of the Red Cross of Serbia, emphasized that the project significantly influenced the status of older persons and persons with disabilities, further highlighting that the project’s worth lay in bolstering the capabilities of the National Red Cross Societies in the Western Balkans and civil society organizations.

Tijana Veljković, representing the SeConS Development Initiative Group, presented key research findings about access to long-term care services in the Western Balkans region, with particular emphasis on the challenges encountered by informal caregivers. The research has shown that informal caregivers are crucial in providing care, whereas external societal support is significantly lacking.

The conference reached the conclusion that fostering partnerships at various levels is crucial for enhancing the quality of life of older persons and persons with disabilities. It was emphasized that mental health should be treated with the same importance as physical health, and that it is vital to combat the stigma associated with mental health and promote a culture of seeking help. According to the findings of the project, the provision of long-term care remains fragmented throughout society, and there is a pressing need for enhanced integration of services. Furthermore, it was pointed out that families, which in 90% of cases provide assistance and aid, should receive additional support. The project successfully alleviated the feeling of loneliness experienced by a certain number of older persons and persons with disabilities, and the provision of financial assistance facilitated prompt access to some health and social care services.