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Formal Informal Social Support Systems Health And Social Care Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Health And Social Care
Wordcount: 4599 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Realising that it is the natural right that all those who labour should enjoy to the fullest extent the fruits of their labour the Colonial Government of the Gold Coast initiated a package for public service workers who went on retirement after serving in the public service for over 30 years, passed an ordinance as part of the reforms in the colony. That ordinance came to be known as CAP 30. The following category of workers were entitled to enjoy this package, Ghana Armed Forces, Police Service, Fire Service, Ghana Education Service, Ghana Health Service, Civil Service etc. However, by 1972 the law was amended to allow another body, SSNIT to take responsibility of some category of workers contribution towards their retirement. After 1972, employees of the Ghana Education Service, Ghana Health Service, and Judiciary Service amongst others were directly under the SSNIT Pension Scheme with the exception of the Security Services. The Social Security Pension Scheme was established under the PNDC Law 247 of 1991. The Scheme is administered by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to cater for Civil and Public Servants, Employees in the private sector, Professionals, Traders, Artisans, Farmers and also the self-employed. The Social Security Scheme is the only basic Social Security Scheme that insures a worker against the following contingencies: Old Age, Invalidity and Death.

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The worker contributes 5% of his/her basic salary and the employer adds 12.5% of the worker’s basic salary, making a total of 17.5% which is paid to SSNIT. The rate of Contribution for Self-Employed or Voluntary Contributor is 17.5% of declared income. It would interest you to know that Government Pension or cap 30 attracts a huge sum of money than the SSNIT pension which is relatively lower. This disparity in the pension administration has brought about workers agitation for fairness in their retirement benefits. In the public sector a person qualifies for full pension at the age of 60years and you must have made a minimum contribution of 240 months in aggregate but can voluntarily go on retirement at age 55years for reduced pension and must have made a minimum contribution of 240 months. As a result of ill-health one qualifies for invalidity pension. In that case you must have made contributions for not less than 12months in aggregate within the last 36 months and you must have been declared permanently invalid and incapable of any normal gainful employment by a qualified and recognized medical officer and certified by a Regional Medical Board on which a SSNIT Medical Officer is represented.

Since 1957 when the country gained independence expatriate officers in the Ghana Civil Service opted to retire and many vacancies occurred. This created the opportunity for Ghanaians who were on pension to be re-engaged in the Civil Service on contract. These officers enjoyed their pension in addition to their remuneration as contract officers. However, in 1968, the Government of Ghana ordered the cessation of the payment of the pension package in addition to the salaries attached to the contract appointment. This measure obviously did not go down well with the affected pensioners who considered it a stab at the back and a breach of faith. ( Tachie-Menson, 2003).

In Accra, a group of pensioners engaged the services of lawyers to fight their cause for them. They succeeded and thus the emergence of the Ghana Government Pensioners’ Association for Accra which also assumed a national status. The way was then opened for branches in all the regional capitals to register members and make payment of part of their monthly dues to Accra. In Wa the pensions Association was formed in 1986 to cater for retired workers in the municipality. Pensioners under the Government Pensions Association are over six hundred as the number keep dwindling due to death. Pensioner with the SSNIT, as at February, 2010 stood at one hundred thousand four hundred and fifty eight with a retirement rate of 0.65%.

It was my doubt that some retired public service workers would live uncomfortable lives after long years of contributing meaningfully to mother Ghana as those kinds of assumptions, suggestions, and my personal experience of my aged parents that prompted me to undertake this proposal in this area.


There is a general perception out there that retirement from active service in Ghana renders one jobless and with nothing to do which often leads to frustration and early death in life if one does not plan life properly. This is attributed to the fact that people on retirement who do not plan well use their benefits to find shelter for themselves after which they end up living on their meager monthly allowance. It is claimed because most workers are not able to put up shelter during their working lives before they go on retirement. This has been the situation over the last decade and more and has rather impoverished retirees. Such claims are not hard to find in the municipality if one visits these retired workers at their homes. Therefore retired workers whose family members are not there to support them are left to their fate or are forced to put up with neighbours. It is also worrying to find frail looking pensioners go to their banks every fortnight to struggle for their allowances. In some situations those incapacitated to the extent that they cannot make the journey to the bank would not have access to their money unless they prepare an authority note to be endorsed by the Association and countersigned by the Accountant General’s representative for the bank to effect payment, a process quite laborious.

Calculation of retirement benefits of Government Pension which was originally based on the pension constant of 1/960th of one’s terminal salary multiplied by the number of years served in months was reviewed in 1946 by the Harragin Salary Commission to 1/600th and has since been increased to 1/480th. The amount arrived at is spilt for 25% to be paid as gratuity and the remaining 75% as pension which is spread over 20 years and is payable monthly. On the death of a pensioner what is due him/her from the remaining period out of the twenty years is paid to his/her beneficiaries as commuted pension. (Tachie-Menson, 2003)

For beneficiaries of a deceased pensioner to claim the unexpected portion of the twenty years’ pension there are three approaches towards that end:-

(a)The nomination form filed with his Department while a civil servant in which he indicated his beneficiaries is the first to be used as authority for disbursement. However, the nomination forms can be revised at any time that the person wishes.

(b)The will is the next authority to be used for disbursement, if it super cedes the nomination form.

(c)In the absence of the two above, Letters of Administration prepared jointly by the head of the pensioner’s family on one side and the wife and children on the other, must be obtained from the Law Courts with which to claim the commuted pension.

As the years roll by for inflation to set in adjustments are made to salaries by the grant of allowances in various forms to the basic salaries of Civil Servants. However, when allowances are added to the basic salaries to mitigate the effect of the rising cost of living, it does not reflect in the pension calculation. This prompts the Ghana Government Pensioner’s Association to enter into serious negotiations with the Government for pension to be increase.

When the consolidated salary was introduced pensioners were left in the lurch. The Association’s negotiating machinery was put to the test with the bargaining power of the Public Services Workers’ Union of which the Association is a Division; Government then consented to the grant of 50%.

Therefore to address the issue of social support for the retired public sector workers in the municipality, it is important to know that the enormous concern of this essay is focused on the poor adoption of measures on the part of local authorities and community members to provide additional welfare resources and other social interventions to support the retired.


This research would give an in-depth knowledge of the formal and informal social support systems of retired workers and to know the plight of retired workers so as to come out with remedies to assist these aged citizens. It would also contribute to prepare would- be retirees to adequately plan for their future retirement. Furthermore, before a research of this nature is meaningfully carried out in the municipality of Wa, it is imperative to have some knowledge about what the area under study is made up of.


The objectives of the study are as follows:

Specific objective:

A. To evaluate the adequacy of available formal and informal support and welfare resources to the retired persons at the community level. The investigation will be directed toward the identification of social support systems that would meet the growing and changing needs of the retired.


1. To determine, in some Ghanaian communities, social support systems for elderly persons.

2. To study both support providers and the beneficiaries comprehensively in order to understand how poverty and the needs of the retired are distributed, and how they are dealt with in practice.

3. To determine the degree of success of formal interventions of support provision to the elderly.

4. To ascertain the social pattern of relief and support, and to draw the social implications of the existing and changing patterns so that appropriate and adequate social policies may be formulated.


These specific objectives above will be framed around the following specific and general questions:

How adequate are the formal and informal social support and welfare resources of retired public sector workers?


1. What are the general cultural expectations about the retired person in the community and how are these changing?

2. What resources are available to them?

3. To what extent do retired persons avail themselves of the community resources and at what cost?

4. What factors encourage or discourage utilization of such resources?

5. To what extent do the resources available complement one another to meet the needs of the retired and what needs are left unmet?

6. What are the principles of reciprocity involved in these various support arrangements in the family and the community?


In reviewing literature, the study will triangulate conceptual and theoretical frame work of the topic understudy. The operational definition of key concepts include the terms ‘formal’, ‘informal’, ‘social support systems’ and ‘public sector workers’. I am interested in defining formal as the official government situation in the line of events. Informal means private and unofficial initiative. Social support system means social interventions to the vulnerable. My construct of these concepts is similar to other concepts that are in use. However, in the past

Social welfare protection, in the form of insurance and assistance programmes, emerged in Europe in the 1800s in order to provide citizens with an economic safety net during periods of illness, economic hardship, and other shocks as discussed (Palacios & Sluchynsky, 2006). Today, nearly every country has some form of social protection developed to provide economic support in times of need (International Social Security Association, 2005). Assistance comes in the form of old-age pensions, survivor benefits, family allowances or other supports. In Africa, the author suggests that social welfare programmes were originally developed in the 1950s and 1960s as a safety net for white workers (Dixon, 1987). Employer-based contributory pensions were the dominant model.

Still today, these pensions primarily serve the wealthiest workers who live in urban areas and have secure careers in the public sector (Palacios & Sluchynsky, 2006). Those who are excluded from these benefits are left to rely upon the traditional safety net of family aid, mutual support, and communal living. For example, in Kenya, ‘the clan system has operated as a labour union world, pooling resources and providing extra support during vulnerable periods’ (Dixon, 1987). This informal system has eroded. However, as countries have developed and urbanized, sources of livelihoods have diversified, family sizes shrunk, and the population aged. Moreover,

throughout sub-Saharan Africa, poverty has further destabilized households, changed demographic patterns and orphaned enormous numbers of children (UNICEF, 2006).

“Vulnerable populations face a social protection vacuum when both formal programmes and informal practices fail to provide the safety nets that families need to survive, even though social protection is a proven component in fighting poverty and responding to families overwhelmed by disease or other shocks” (Barrientos & DeJong, 2004; Bourguignon, Ferreira, & Leite, 2002; Chronic Poverty Research Centre, 2005; Skoufias & di Maro, 2006). Throughout Africa, social protection programmes could well be mechanisms that enable families to economically survive and help children reach their potential.

The reality that social welfare schemes in Africa exclude more people than they cover, has been established (Dixon, 1987; Fultz & Pieris, 1999; Taylor, 2001) and yet there are important reasons to revisit this topic. He argues that in the last decade, a growing number of countries have expanded or developed new programmes in an effort to reduce poverty as well as to invest in human and economic development. Evidence of the growing momentum around social protection schemes include the “Livingstone Call For Action” (2006) where thirteen Eastern and Southern African governments pledged to draft costed national social transfer plans within two to three years. In a related situation, the African Union is driving and supporting efforts to promote the development of better social welfare systems; while heads of states throughout the world, have committed to “building, where needed, and supporting the social security systems that protects the aged (United Nations General Assembly, 2006).

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the characteristics of existing social welfare policies in Ghana and countries throughout Africa. These policies are described and the characteristics of existing social welfare schemes are analyzed in order to facilitate dialogue on how governments, supported by the international community, can improve current welfare schemes and build new systems that are better aligned with the needs of vulnerable populations, in order to provide a meaningful social safety net.


In order to examine the characteristics of government and employer provided social support schemes to retired workers, the research must conduct an enquiry aimed at increasing knowledge based on facts. Therefore to achieve this, a systematic method and instruments of collating and collecting data should be used since the appropriateness of these methods and instruments to a large extent determine the validity and reliability of the data.

Also the sample used should be a true representation of the population as well as the instrument utilized in the research.


The Wa Municipality is one of the oldest districts in the region, and the biggest of the nine districts. It is the capital town of the region. The estimated population of Wa Municipality for 2008 is 124,476 as against 105,065 in 2000, an increase of about19%. The population density of the area is 38 persons per square kilometers. It has about 32 communities. Because Wa doubles as the Municipal and Regional capital, it has a high population growth rate of 4% per annum with a greater proportion of the total population of the Municipality and the Region concentrated in it.

Wa Municipality covers the Southwestern parts of the region. It stretches from longitude 1Ù’°40’N to 2° 45’N and from latitude 9° 32’W to 10° 20’W. It covers an area of approximately 5899.30 square kilometers, which is about 32% and 2.56%of the region and the nation respectively. To the South, Southwest and Southeast, Wa Municipality shares common boundaries with Wa West/Wa East, Wa West and Wa East Districts respectively. To the north, Wa Municipality is bordered by Nadwoli District.

It has more retired civil and public servants and also suitable in terms of providing sufficient sample sizes of retired persons.


The target population for this research is the retired civil and public sector workers in the municipality and their families. Retired civil and public sector workers are of two categories. The first category is made up of pensioners under Government Pension scheme and the second category is made up of pensioners under SSNIT Pension scheme.


A number of samples will be drawn for the study. Unlike Census, where the entire population is covered by the study, sampling enables a researcher to study a relatively small part of the target population and yet obtain accurate and detailed data that are representative of the whole at a lower cost (Sarantakos, 2005). . The first sample of respondents will be made up of community members who are 60 years and above. The second respondents will be made up of family members, kin relationship and local authorities.


A snowball sampling procedure will be used. By this method a retired public sector worker is identified within the community and interviewed. This first respondent then leads the researcher to the next respondent who also falls with the target group. The process is continued until the required number of respondents is interviewed.


Considerable interest is shown in the choice of research methods to use in this research proposal. There is the quantitative data and method approach which often is associated with positivism, the prevailing paradigm in recent times. Under this approach scientific methods can more or less readily represent and measure concepts which seek to predict and explain causal relations among key variables. However, some critics are of the view that positivistic methods reduce the contextual meanings in the process of developing quantified measures of phenomena. Though the issue of empirical approach to research has been justified by its success in measuring quantitative research, in more recent years, scientists have been challenged to explain phenomena that defy measurement and their inability to quantitatively measure some phenomena, and the dissatisfaction with which the results of measurement of other phenomena have led to an intense search for other approaches to study human phenomena.

A modern approach, which came to be known as post positivism, is a recent evolution of positivism which focus has been on qualitative methods, and is modeled on positivistic methods and experimental designs (Miles and Huberman, 1993). This approach has led to the acceptance of qualitative research approach which does not need empirical data to discover knowledge. However, one cannot help but to stuck by the “success of qualitative research methods in the

market place of academic ideas” (Atkinson, 1995, p. 117). The tradition of using qualitative methods to study human phenomena is grounded in the social sciences. The tradition came about because aspects of human values, culture, and relationships were unable to be described fully using quantitative research methods. More recently, the practice of qualitative research has expanded to clinical settings because “empirical approaches have proven to be of limited service in answering some of the challenges and pressing clinical questions, especially where human subjectivity and interpretation are involved” (Thorne, 1997, p. 28).

However, the use of qualitative research has its own flaws as well. It is unable to study relationships between variables with the degree of accuracy that is required to establish social trends.

For the purpose of this proposal a triangulation of qualitative and quantitative methodology would be used to analyse data. However qualitative method has a more flexible approach in pr ocedure to construction of research design in the sampling, data collection and processing and reporting.


Data will be collected from a variety of sources within the selected community, from families, kin, neighbours, educationists, legal and health practitioners, from neighbourhood and community associations, religious groups, welfare agencies, specialised groups such as trade unions, from local councils and other organised groups. Further information gathered will come from retired persons themselves, from their families/kin, extra familial networks, neighbourhood, their community and from state agencies. The material gathered from these levels will be in a complementary relationship to one another in order to approximate a high degree of reliability and validity.

The principal data that will be gathered include the followings:

(a) Community profile: geographic, demographic, historical, political-social and economic conditions of the community, placed within the national context.

(b) Prevailing cultural norms and the expectations concerning the retired persons and their care, conceptions about reciprocity and exchange, family and kinship relationship etc.

(c) Inventory and detailed descriptions of indigenous informal support systems and of formal support systems available within the community.

Another source of data collection will be a historical review of formal and informal support systems available in the community and local levels. At the formal level, data will include the public services and programmes instituted by the government at different levels. At the informal level, data will include information on the traditional supporting roles played by family, kin, patrons and others.

Data collection will proceed by means of primary sources of data such as interviews, questionnaire, and focus group discussions. Secondary data through existing literature will be used by the researcher. In terms of priorities, it is expected that questionnaires will be constructed and pretested.


The interview is a face to face meeting between a questioner and a respondent, or an oral presentation of an opinion or attitude scale (Zikmund, 1994). Structured interview will be used for meeting the respondents. It will however be inter space with unstructured interviews when interacting with non pensioners.


A questionnaire is a written instrument that contains a series of questions or statements called items that attempts to collect information on a particular topic. It is useful for large scale surveys that involve collection of data from literate respondents. Questionnaire will be administered to pensioners as well.


Another source of data collection will be focus group discussions. This third phase about 9-12 pensioners will be grouped for discussions about their personal experience before and after active service. The selection of participant will be balance in terms of sex to give it a fair representation.


In recording the information or data gathered, I will employ both quantitative and qualitative analysis. Data will be described and in other cases subjected to quantitative analysis regarding trends in each dimension of the topic. Correlations between aspects of the topic and a series of other variables to establish more detailed results will be conducted. Beyond this, the researcher is expected to explain behaviours more extensively and more accurately. Where data needs empirical analysis quantitative model will be used and where it needs description and collection and analysis occur simultaneously, qualitative model will be suitable.

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The Government under the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare is seriously considering the development of a national policy for the aged. Local authorities should compliment government effort by initiating social and community activities to engage the elderly in the community as well as supplement government efforts of finding welfare resources for them. The results of this study should identify and address gaps in existing interventions.

My contribution to the study is to draw to attention that every worker dreams of going on retirement one day. Therefore adequate preparations should be made for the aged who have live most of their life working to develop the country so that they don’t retire and still wallow in poverty.

My motivation stern from the very experience of having to handle my aged parents who were once public servants and are now on retirement and in addition to relations and friends who are affected in one way or another of their aged relatives.

The intention of spending time and money on this exercise is to bring about an improvement of the status quo.










1 use of questions

2 interviews

3Focus grp Dis.

June-July. Pre test

Decem.-Jan. Retired workers.

June-July Cap 30 Retired Workers

Oct. – Nov.

August-September Commty. profile

Feb-Mar. Families Kin. Commty mmb August – Sept. SSNIT Retired Workers

Octob.- Novem. Prevailng cul. Norm

April.-May edu, Leg., Health workrs



1 Qualitative

Mainly descriptive analysis of data. Often collection and analysis will occur simultaneously.

METHODS 2Quantitative

Mainly statistical analysis of data. Correlation between aspects of the topic and a series of variables will be established.





Unit Cost

Total Cost


Internet Browsing

Browsing and printing


Documents acquired


Travel expenses

Fuel for local movement


Feeding accommodation

Rent for two years and food

GH¢ 120.00


Printing and photo copying questionnaires

15 pages 100 respondents



80 pages 8 copies



Binding of books

8 copies



Grant Total



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