Dr. Joy St. John . Image: www.nationnews.com

With the population of Barbados becoming more and more elderly, nursing auxiliaries (formerly called nursing aides) have been urged to continue training in the care of the elderly.

This was the central theme of remarks delivered today at the opening of the Barbados Elderly Care Association (BECA)/Technical Vocational and Education and Training (TVET) Council’s Care of the Older Adult training programme.

In lauding the work of the BECA, Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joy St. John noted that the programme was yet another example of the initiatives they were able to bring to fruition.  

And, she told participants: “The Government of Barbados agreed in the Nurses Registration Act, to link re-registration of nurses and this includes nursing auxiliaries to continuing education. So the education that is received today you have to work with the Nursing Council of Barbados to ensure that they are sufficient credits applied to the persons in this field.  It is all about empowering yourself… this could be the start of moving up throughout the profession.”

In alluding to the importance of training to the alternative care programme, Dr. St. John said: “Alternative care is a private sector/public sector collaboration which started in 2000, where the Ministry had a partnership with just five nursing homes to provide care to some of the older persons who were on our waiting list. In 2009, we have a partnership with over 35 nursing homes and these are all governed by standards which are legislated and policed by the advisory and inspections committee. The training that you will commence today is part of ensuring the quality of care of older persons in the private sector facilities.”

Meanwhile, Chief Nursing Officer, Mitchell Clarke told the participants that nursing of the geriatric patient had always been a priority and urged them to continue a programme of learning that would take them to the level of the Barbados Community College (BCC) and the University of the West Indies (UWI). While noting that the UWI would, from this academic year, offer a Masters programme in gerontology, he said, “We want you to ensure standards of care and treatment to the elderly are of a high quality and since you play a pivotal role in providing care for our elderly, you must continue to read and look at the next step, which is getting into the BCC programme for nursing and then the university.”

The six-month training course is expected to allow nursing aides to develop skills, techniques and insights to effectively deliver the highest quality care to the older adult through the use of national occupational standards and vocational qualifications. The attainment of these standards will also allow these individuals to work across the region.

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