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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-11-24

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>


Sunday, November 24, 2002

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CONTENTS

  • [01] Someone to watch over you
  • [02] Dancing fund-raisers line up for world record bid
  • [03] Annual licence crackdown on dodgy doctors
  • [04] 'Traffic turnabout will drive away the pedestrians'
  • [05] Earthquake testing time
  • [06] Wedding invitations tragedy
  • [07] £10,000 break-ins

  • [01] Someone to watch over you

    By Jean Christou

    IT'S common knowledge that Cyprus has an ageing population. In the old days, the elderly were looked after by the family, but times have changed. More people working means less time and resources to look after elderly relatives. Pensioners, while loath to leave their family homes, opt to go into residential care because they don't want to be a burden on their children.

    The problem has been addressed to a degree by government and non- governmental home-care schemes, but now technology that aims to keep old people in their own homes has arrived on the scene in Cyprus. An array of hi-tech gadgets designed to monitor the elderly and their movements, allows them to feel safe within their own environs - and provides contact with carers at the press of a button.

    Telecare is not a new concept and is already operating worldwide, but the technology has only been available in Cyprus for a couple of months. The venture is the brainchild of Chris Andreou and his mother Niki, who has extensive experience from working for many years in an old people's home.

    Andreou, who himself spent his summers working at the same home, said the basic concept revolves around a small telephone-like machine called the Lifeline, that works on radio sensors, and gives the elderly, or people with special needs, 24-hour access to its Nicosia-based call centre from anywhere on the island.

    The Lifeline is connected electronically to a personal trigger attached either to a pendant or watch strap worn at all times that the elderly can press if they need help. The call registers at the call centre, which within seconds can call up all the information, and despatch help to the home.

    “The trigger is waterproof and shock-proof and they must wear it especially in the bath because this is one of the major areas where they are likely have a fall,” he said, adding that the technology was only as good as the response. “Once they press the button we know everything about them, if it's a man or a woman inside the house; if it's a couple we know which one pressed the pendant. All the details come in. We know all their health problems, what medicine they take how much they take. We know the details of the house. What neighbours or relatives have a key. We also have direct contact with the police, the fire station and the hospital.”

    One of the most fascinating gadgets that work with the Lifeline is the fall detector. “This is an extremely smart device and extremely effective,” Andreou said. “It's the most advanced on market. If you fall there are two things it can detect. It can detect shock, a change of alignment and the combination of these two. Plus the fall from a height triggers it, so false alarms are cancelled out.”

    Andreou regards the fall detector and the smoke detector also provided with the Lifeline system as probably the most important peripherals available.

    “When you get to a certain age you will fall,” he said. “Wearing a detector allows old people to move more freely. If they fall once, they are going to be scared after and you will sit more and not be active and then become even frailer. Eventually when you do move, this will lead you to fall again. The detector is an assurance that you can go around your house and yard and that if you do fall someone will be there for you.”

    In addition to its 24-hour call centre, the company also has a back-up team of doctors, nurses and home-carers and provides the extra services at cost. Telecare's own staff are also trained in first aid and have done courses in gerontology.

    Additional items are an emergency pull cord, an intruder alert (activated when the occupant goes out and sending an alert if someone else enters the house) and a sensory mat that raises the alarm if there has been no movement by the resident of the house for at least six hours. The mat usually placed outside the bathroom because Andreou said the elderly usually need to use the bathroom every six hours. If they don't, the mat sensor sends and alert and the call centre sends someone to check on the occupant. The smoke detector is also directly linked to the system. “We even know what room a fire might have broken out in and we instantly call the fire brigade,” Andreou said. There is even a carbon monoxide detector that sends an alert if a gas heater or cooker has a leak or if an elderly person forgets to switch them off.

    The cost of the basic service is around £18 a month, which includes the Lifeline, the pendant and the smoke detector, and the elderly are free to call up and chat to staff or ask their advice if they wish. The monthly cost rises according to the number of other peripherals required, but Andreou said few people would actually need full coverage and that each client was advised according to their special needs after an assessment.

    Andreou said the scheme had been hugely successful in Malta, where Telecare has 22,000 subscribers. Around the world some 1.5 million people are using the technology. Andreou's office also has its own generator and a huge UPS to keep the computers online at all times. “We are constantly powered.”

    “Things are moving ahead,” said Andreou who has already entered discussions with the Welfare Department on how Telecare care could be incorporated into their system.

    “We are trying to keep the elderly in their homes.” he said, adding that a lot of people entering old people's homes - at anything from £250 pounds a month - were doing so simply because they believed they had no other option.

    “We are trying to avoid this. We will take care of you in your homes. Whatever you need.” But Andreou said he did caution some clients who wished to subscribe to the system on behalf of elderly relatives who clearly would not be able to use the technology. “The best thing for some is to receive care in a home,” he said.

    He said it took his mother three years to research how the system could work in Cyprus. The fact that Cyprus is small and that neighbours are always willing to help, boosted the chances for success. He also said the company had a written statement from police saying they would co-operate. “I think we are the only country using this technology that has such a thing,” he said.

    Costas Ioannides the president of the Old People's Homes Association told the Sunday Mail that he was familiar with the concept of Telecare. “It's a new idea and a very good idea,” he said. “I saw this in Malta and in the US and the UK and last year I saw it in Israel. It's very good.”

    Chloe Koromia, an official from the welfare department said it was too early to give her views on Telecare. It's still under study, she said. “Telecare is new in Cyprus.”

    However, she did say home care was a big issue for the Welfare Department and that several programmes had been up and running for years, both governmental and non-governmental.

    “The frequency of care is estimated on an individual basis according to need,” she said. “There are cases where we may cover full home care, which can be given by only be full-time carers who stay with the person. “It is the philosophy of the welfare services to keep the elderly people in their own environment for as long as possible and we do all that is necessary and possible in terms of providing direct home care services.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [02] Dancing fund-raisers line up for world record bid

    CYPRUS is again taking part in a global, synchronised line-dancing event today to raise funds for treating myasthenia gravis.

    This is the second year of the event, and dancers will be trying to break last year's Guinness record for the largest ever line-dance. Last year it attracted over 2,700 dancers at 21 venues in nine countries, raising £25, 000.

    At 2pm GMT, all the indoor and outdoor spaces worldwide will be linked in a bid to set a new record. This year's entrants are from 20 different countries and the number of expected participants should exceed 10,000. The Cyprus dancing is in Limassol's Valana Hotel at 4pm.

    The countdown to break the record will be led by line-dancers at Pontins holiday centre in Southport, UK, which will be linked by Internet to venues spanning east and west Europe, the Mediterranean, Africa, North America, Australasia and the Far East.

    For a record to be recognised by Guinness World Records, participants at each venue must dance for over five minutes before two credible witnesses and supply a videotape recording of their performances that clearly shows their local time.

    The Myasthenia Gravis Association is a UK charity offering support to myasthenics and their families. It aims to increase public and medical awareness and raise funds for research in order to find a cure. The association said that myasthenia gravis “is an auto immune disease which is characterised by fluctuating, sometimes fatal, muscle weakness. The body's immune system, in the form of antibodies, attacks and damages the nerve signal reception areas causing a breakdown in communication between nerve and muscle, which results in a loss of effectiveness to the muscle.”

    Recent research has resulted in more understanding and better management of the disease, but there is still no cure.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [03] Annual licence crackdown on dodgy doctors

    By Alexia Saoulli

    IN an effort to offer more protection to patients, doctors will soon have to renew their medical licences annually, Pancyprian Medical Association President Dr Antonis Vassiliou said yesterday.

    The new regulation will be enforced at the beginning of next year.

    “We have decided that doctors must apply for their medical licences yearly so that the public will be able to distinguish who is a real doctor and who is not,” said Vassiliou.

    The objective is to protect the public from putting their trust in charlatans. Vassiliou said that, for example, some people with PhDs had been known to mislead people into thinking they were medical doctors by putting a doctor's sign on their door.

    By being forced to renew their licences annually, patients would be able to determine more easily whether or not the practitioner was registered with the association. “In other words, while they are sitting in the waiting room, a mere glance at the wall will let them know if they are waiting to see a certified doctor,” said Vassiliou.

    Doctors also have to prove every three years that they have accumulated 150 points through the association's Continuous Medical Education scheme.

    “This system calls for doctors to follow a series of seminars and courses on their specialisation in order to ensure that the medical care they are offering is up-to-date and modern,” explained Vassiliou. Continuous medical education was introduced at the beginning of this year but now, with each course, seminar or written study, medics would be awarded points. Over three years they would have to have collected at least 150 points, which would be certified for them to renew their licence.

    “Again, this is an effort to upgrade and modernise medicine in Cyprus and protect the public, because it will pressure doctors into following these course if they want to continue practising their profession,” Vassiliou told the Sunday Mail. “It's no use having a doctor who finished his studies 30 years ago and hasn't opened a book since, and who is not well- informed on modern medical procedures.”

    Issuing annual medical licences would also act as a guarantee of subscription payments to the association, which in turn would help its effectiveness.

    “The medical association wants to continuously improve its services, but it takes funds to do that,” said Vassiliou. “We rely solely on doctors' subscription fees... but, unfortunately, not all of them pay up. Now they will have to pay a set fee (to be determined later) every time they apply for their new licence.”

    Vassiliou said that moves forcing all private and public doctors to obtain written patient consent before undertaking surgery would also be implemented on January 1.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [04] 'Traffic turnabout will drive away the pedestrians'

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    THE two commercial streets of Ledra and Onasagorou in the old town of Nicosia were fully pedestrianised over a decade ago, paving the way for former mayor Lellos Demetriades' vision for the revival of the old city. Vehicle access was only allowed from 7-10am and 1-3pm while pedestrians enjoyed the privilege of walking down a central strip of town 'sans voitures'.

    Tourists, families and window-shoppers enjoyed it, eating ice-cream in one of the many parlours or simply taking a stroll. Then French experts were invited by Nicosia Municipality to examine ways of rejuvenating the old city; they produced a list of proposals, one of which was to turn the shopping streets into a semi-pedestrian zone.

    The municipality has since gone ahead with a number of these proposals, including electronic information boards and improved parking facilities -- and, as of tomorrow, will re-open parts of the two roads to traffic.

    With the advent of 24-hour traffic in sections of Ledra and Onasagorou streets, the Sunday Mail took the opportunity to ask shopkeepers, shoppers and weekend strollers their views.

    Most proved to be strongly against the idea, finding it nonsensical and to nobody's benefit. Pedestrians indicated they would visit the area less, since it would no longer offer the safety and security for their children. But a few shopkeepers banked on the traffic change to bring back the customers they say they lost with pedestrianisation.

    One shopkeeper, Elena Kapona, said: “It might make Ledra more alive, otherwise, its going to die”. But a jewellery store owner maintained that brining in traffic was too dangerous. “Many children walk up and down here, ” he said. “Who's to blame if anything should happen? Also, it will affect our clientele who will be scared to walk as freely as they do with their prams and children.”

    Andronicos Andronicou, who owns an ice-cream parlour, was also against the new move. “People come here with their families, how are they going to walk around on Sundays like they do now? Of course it will affect our business, I just can't see how it will benefit anyone.”

    One resident warned the municipality to leave things as they are. “That exit street (between the two roads) is a residential area. The neighbourhood children play there in the afternoons and it is not right to put their lives in such danger” said Maria Georgiou. “Before, when the road was open to cars, there was a terrible amount of traffic. It's not right to bring that back.”

    Maria Argyridou, walking her children down Ledra Street, also objected to the semi-pedestrianisation plans saying, “Its easier to walk down now because there is no danger for my children. If people want to shop they can park further away and walk to the shops. Once the cars come again, we won't feel so safe and won't want to come as often”.

    Shoe shop owner, Eleni Socratous held a different opinion. “I have been in this business for years and have seen how business has dropped since pedestrianisation. This plan will only open up part of the road to traffic though, so I don't know how much it is going to help.”

    Ice-cream parlour owner Christos Pahitas also supported the idea to re-open the roads but believed the wrong road had been chosen for traffic. “Opening the Arsinois Road further up would be a much better solution because it's a straight road that leads to a recognisable place at the foot of Paphos Gate police station,” he said.

    Sandy Kyriakou said it might work because people drive more than they walk in Cyprus, but added: “As a father, my main concern is the safety of the children walking up and down.” Costas Olympius maintained that his family would stop coming if cars started passing through. “It's the only road that's fully paved in old Nicosia,” he said.

    Another shopkeeper, Maria Antoniou, felt it would create a lot of confusion and difficulty for pedestrians, especially during the Christmas period.

    One storekeeper, Costas Vrontis, who has worked on Ledra Street for 30 years, said: “I have been hear for 30 years and I don't understand why its being done. Who will it serve? Pedestrianisation was a success, not just for commercial reasons but because it provides entertainment for people too. They can take a stroll, bring their children, but once cars enter the equation, they wont like it.”

    Vrontis felt this was not the way to revive the old shopping street. “Ledra needs new, popular and commercially successful shops to do well. The older shops here carry little weight with shoppers as they sell a cheaper product. It is mostly 'middle of the road' people who come here for walks and they don't find anything to buy.”

    One avid biker, Lucy Stravrinides, said opening the roads would have other consequences: “I like to cycle and roller blade down Ledra, but considering how people drive it will become very dangerous to do that. I will probably also feel more threatened to walk alone at night if guys start cruising around in cars.”

    Bright yellow lines, humps and 20 kilometre speed limit signs are already in place for tomorrow's opening. Previously, municipal officer Makis Nicolaides told the Cyprus Mail he recognised that re-opening parts of the main commercial streets to traffic would create problems for some, especially pedestrians, but said the link sections were a pilot scheme. “The first six months will be a testing period, and if it works, we will keep it running,” he said last week.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [05] Earthquake testing time

    By a Staff Reporter

    AN earthquake procedure exercise is to be staged tomorrow morning, the island's civil defence unit said yesterday.

    The role of civil defence in a natural disaster will be put to the test across the island. The exercise will enact a real-life earthquake situation and include all civil defence personnel and other rapid reaction units. The unit's volunteer safety and rescue groups will be active to save people 'trapped' inside buildings.

    Safety measures for pupils and students will be put into practice at schools throughout the island at the same time. The tests will start at 10am and last for two hours.

    In Nicosia, the exercise will be held at the Anthoupoli government refugee settlement; in Limassol, on Gregoris Afxentiou Street, Mesa Yitonia; in Larnaca, at Akropoleos Evriviadio Square; and in Paphos, i Democratias Street, at the 'Yiolanda' building.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [06] Wedding invitations tragedy

    By a Staff Reporter

    A LIMASSOL resident aged 49 was killed in a car crash on the old Limassol- Paphos road on Friday afternoon, police said yesterday.

    At around 3pm, Yiannakis Savvas Agathocleous was driving to Pissouri to deliver his daughter's wedding invitations to friends. Just before reaching his destination, he slowed down to turn right, said police. But there was a collision with a double-cabin vehicle and the van Agathocleous was driving swerving into oncoming traffic, resulting in a second collision.

    Agathocleous was killed and the driver of the oncoming car and her two daughters, aged 14 and 10, sustained injuries and were taken to Limassol General Hospital where they were treated and later discharged. Limassol police are investigating.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [07] £10,000 break-ins

    By a Staff Reporter

    MORE than £10,000 worth of valuables were stolen on Friday during breaking and entering incidents, police said yesterday.

    The thieves struck some time before lunch in Paphos and Limassol.

    A Paphos woman reported £5,000 worth of jewellery stolen from her home some time between 7.20am and 1.30pm, and a second reported her computer and jewellery, worth £2,900, had been taken, as well as £100 in cash.

    Meanwhile, a Briton living in Limassol reported £2,415 worth of jewellery stolen in the space of an hour and a half, between 11.45am and 1.15pm.

    Police are investigating all three crimes, in what appears to be a fresh spate of thefts, following others reported in recent months.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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