Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, has reaffirmed Government???s commitment to implementing programmes that would address the care and accommodation for the island???s seniors.

He outlined his Ministry???s plans at the end of an official reopening ceremony for the refurbished female ward, last Friday, at the St. Lucy District Hospital at Hope Road.

Mr. Inniss noted that officials in the Ministry had just completed the draft Care for the Elderly Policy Paper and copies had already been sent to the Ministries of Social Care, Family, Youth and Sports and other social agencies, for their input.

The Minister of Health said the contents of the paper would be discussed early next year at a meeting with the Social Policy Committee of Cabinet with a view to addressing some of the challenges that had confronted health officials in providing care for the elderly.

Apart from upgrades to the physical plants around the island, Mr. Inniss also gave an insight into some of the other developmental changes to come on stream. ???We are also looking at other programmes and policies. For example, there is a need for better rehabilitative facilities for the elderly ??? an area which has been discussed for many years, and there is also the issue of cost recovery which needs to be addressed.???

He added: ???We have limited resources but we have huge demands.?? Under the alternative care programme where we [Ministry of Health] place individuals in private care, that programme is costing us about $6 million a year. Even though we have a policy which says that you pay for everyone regardless of their socio-economic condition, to me, that is unfair.?????????????

Given this situation, Mr. Inniss disclosed that the Ministry of Health was in the final stages of formulating proposals to address this situation. ???We have to get inputs quickly from the Attorney General???s Office, because the process would involve some legislative reforms to effect that change, so that we can see a situation where needs assessment are conducted and individuals would have to, or their estate, contribute to some of their up-keep,??? the Minister explained.

By doing this, he contended more elderly persons would have greater access to residential care than what currently obtains.

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