CHECK ON RESIDENTIAL CARE AMENITIES NECESSARY

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Participants at the workshop discussing some of the issues raised on residential care accommodation

An increasing number of “unsuitable and inappropriate buildings/proposals” are being submitted for use as residential care amenities which do not meet basic criteria as set out by the Health Services Regulations.

This revelation was made today by Chief Building Officer in the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), Sylvan Catwell, who was speaking on behalf of the Department’s Deputy Director, Anthony Headley, at the National Union of Public Workers, Dalkeith, St. Michael.

He made the comments while addressing a half-day workshop organised to review problems encountered in vetting nursing homes and similar residential care applications, in an effort to identify basic operational guidelines for residential care accommodation.

Mr. Catwell told the audience that generally there was no custom-built residential accommodation for Nursing Homes, Senior Citizens’ Homes and Retirement Centres.

“The situation may appear incidental in reviewing the occasional application for residential care. However, this changes when one sees six or eight applications, some without basic staff accommodation, adequate emergency access/exit, especially from first floors; and inadequate accommodation for persons with disabilities.

“In addition, there is a general lack of comfort and privacy for residents, and a plethora of operational and other conditions, which though not essentially of health services import, nevertheless render the accommodation unsuitable for safe use,” he said.

Suggesting that an increase in life expectancy in Barbados had apparently resulted in a growing demand for residential care accommodation for the elderly, he stated, however, that the provision of appropriate care standards had not kept pace with this development.

Mr. Catwell opined that it was more prudent to proactively address this issue, rather than merely react to a few concerns that may arise daily. He said that it was opportune and expedient for Government and stakeholders to have clear policy guidelines and standards, which, along with the current legislation, could facilitate the sound processing of applications and more effective operation of these residential establishments.

The 20 participants at the meeting were drawn from a number of governmental agencies, including the EPD, the National Assistance Board, the Labour Department, the Barbados Fire Service and the National Disabilities Unit. They will meet in a month’s time to review the recommendations which will be sent to the Ministry of Health.

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