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Duty-bound to protect elderly

rhondathompson, [email protected]

Duty-bound to protect elderly

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The Ministry of Health has been in the spotlight in the past week for one reason or other but the greatest coverage has been in connection with the clean-up at Furniture Limited, and the threat to close any old peoples’ homes that are found not complying with the standards set by the ministry.
It is important that this latest initiative is not lost in the furore about other health-related matters, since a larger and growing number of our people now live in private nursing homes as the population boasts of more and more centenarians and a generally larger elder population.
It follows, therefore, that the welfare and health of this section of the population is placed in the hands of these operators. Their lodging, nutrition and everyday existence and social organization is dictated by their residence away from their loved ones and in the hands of hired help who are generally well trained and understanding of the challenges of advancing years.
But no Ministry of Health in a democratic society can leave the regulation of these vital homes to the caprice of the operators since many may well have the highest standards, but even if a single operator does not follow the high standards, then that is one deviant operator too many.        
We, therefore, applaud this move by the ministry because the vulnerable in our society require the protection of the law simply because they are vulnerable and the ministry in discharge of its responsibility to the vulnerable must think always of the well being of the residents of these homes, and leave the business end of these operations to private enterprise.
It is revealing that there are now 62 of these nursing homes and it is clear that such homes are now flourishing business ventures, and therefore their licensing and inspection by the ministry is absolutely vital.
We anticipate that in due course there will be a general revision of the law relating to elders in our community.
We would encourage such a move, because the elderly are as vulnerable as the youngest.
And the Government must take cognizance of both these groups and ensure that just as we have special laws for the one group that similarly we have similarly protective laws for the other who may or may not live in these nursing homes.
We note too, the Government allocates $6 million to alternative care for the elderly, which is a contractual arrangement between Government and participating private nursing homes, and we believe that all Barbadians will encourage Government to maintain this transfer
even in the face of recessionary and fiscal pressures.