Minister of Labour, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, watching as students of the care of the??elderly programme at All Saints Skills Training Centre in Mile and a Quarter, St. Peter. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

The new elderly care programme of the Barbados Vocational Training Board (BVTB) has been deemed a fitting response to the demand for the provision of residential services for the care of the elderly.????????????????

Minister of Labour, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, made this assertion, as she launched the six-month programme at the All Saints Skills Training Centre in Mile and a Quarter, St. Peter, yesterday.

"The pace of life today is such that we can’t provide some services in the home as we used to.?? Many people cannot stay at home to care for the elderly; so this has created a market for domestic services such as housekeepers and caregivers.?? Barbadians are living and working longer; so we need to be able to provide these services for our parents and for elderly persons in our society," she said.??

The Labour Minister added: "If many of them have a choice, they will tell you they don’t want to leave their homes or their communities … and not everyone meets the criteria for having home help provided by the National Assistance Board.?? So, this course trains unemployed persons to provide this service to clients for a fee.?? This is an opportunity to provide a service in your community."??

Although this area might not have been a first choice for the students, Minister Byer Suckoo stated that persons needed to identify the community requirements they could meet.??

Acting Director of the BVTB, Merna Jordan, explained that it was two years since the course had been conceptualised as the first social services sector programme the Board had created.?? She stated that the Board had utilised the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Council’s occupational standards for caring older adults as the starting point, and had also collaborated with the Nursing Council of Barbados and the Ministry of Health, to ensure the standards of the programme were maintained.??

"We think we have a winning programme here, both in terms of the possibilities for unemployment, and the need for people who are well trained to care for the elderly.?????? I know there are people providing a service to the best of their abilities, but we are glad to help fill that gap to provide the training in this area," Ms. Jordan stated.

There are 16 persons registered for the course, including one male. The programme started four weeks ago and is being taught by registered nurse, Shirley Bennett.??

Dr. Byer Suckoo also toured the Hothersal Skills Training Centre in St. John, where she observed the skills of students in the masonry and tiling programmes. Afterwards, she met staff and students enrolled in garment making, international cuisine, bar and restaurant services and care of the elderly. Minister Byer Suckoo was accompanied by BVTB and Ministry of Labour personnel.

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