“Veshamarta” is a campaign, initiated in mid-March 2020 by a team of social entrepreneurs who understood that immediate measures needed to be taken to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 amongst the residents and staff of geriatric institutions, before the Ministry of Health had identified and defined geriatric institutions as high-risk areas that required a unique response. The campaign became the main solution provider for all geriatric institutions and their populations in Israel by providing knowledge and training to staff, increasing the number of staff, procuring and supplying PPE, building institutional resilience and providing emotional support to address loneliness.
The donation from the Scheinberg Relief Fund enabled the VeShamarta campaign to rapidly evolve into a comprehensive and effective national initiative, which was able to provide 305 geriatric care homes across Israel with immediate emergency support to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak. For three critical months (April-June) the fund provided: 12,000 medical and care staff with full PPE equipment (including masks, gowns, gloves and hand disinfectant); training and emotional support for staff; and resources (including 1,000 tablets) to connect residents with their loved ones regularly and to alleviate loneliness and boredom during confinement.
VeShamarta shone the spotlight on the urgent need to protect the elderly in residential facilities and demonstrated it could be achieved. The rapid impact demonstrated by the initiative inspired other philanthropic bodies, like the Welfare Ministry’s ‘Legacy Foundation’ and The Rothschild Foundation, to provide additional financial support, which enabled further expansion of the initiative.