New regulations for social welfare homes that have recently been approved by the government have stirred controversy, especially the stipulation that elderly members sheltered at these homes are entitled to SR200 per month in pocket money allowance.
Sa’d Al Maqrabi, a Saudi national in his fifties, pointed out such a sum is not enough. “It does almost nothing in helping people meet their needs. I know that because my children give me my allowance and SR200 is simply not enough. People think that the elderly do not have expenses. While this may be partially true, an elderly person still needs to be in possession of some cash.”
Social activist Sultan Al-Shammari told Arab News that the government should “give elderly people coupons so that they can buy what they want from certain places. The sum can be determined by the ministry,” he said.
Fahd Al-Issa, a spokesman for the Ministry of Social Affairs in Makkah, told Arab News in a phone interview that the Shoura Council examined the regulations before they were approved by the Council of Ministers. Yet Al-Issa pointed out that the ministry has still not received the entire list of regulations and is waiting to get a hold of them to distribute them.
Articles 1 and 2 of the regulations for the operation of social welfare homes provide general definitions, while Article 3 specifies the role of these homes, namely “to provide protection and social welfare to those who need it.”
People in need of social welfare homes are outlined in Article 4, which stipulates that “in order to be eligible for welfare housing, one must be a Saudi national and 60 years of age or older.” Those under the age of 60 and are unable to work due to a physical condition can also be accepted if they provide evidence that they are in need of services at welfare homes.
Other provisions outline details of the services and activities to be performed at the homes, like providing the guests with food and health care, as well as personal supplies. The homes must also organize religious, social, cultural and entertainment activities that will help guests adjust to their new environment.
The homes are required to keep records for each guest, including information about their social and psychological condition, in addition to following up on their conditions. The homes should make contact groups that help guests communicate with family members and receive visitations from them.