The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) is not a residential care institution but rather an acute care facility.

This was reiterated today by Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, as he addressed the National Assistance Board’s seminar on Alternative Activities for Persons in Institutional Care at the Pan American Health Organization in Dayrells Road (PAHO).

Acknowledging that families were at times left with the only option of placing their elderly relatives into institutional care, Minister Inniss stressed, however, that elderly relatives, discharged from the QEH, should not be abandoned there.

He said: "We continue to be challenged there with the number of persons who are discharged but remain in residence costing taxpayers a considerable amount of money.?? And, that cost is borne in the reflection of the number of bed spaces taken up, nursing costs, special diet cost and supports care. This morning, there were 15 persons who have been discharged from [the] QEH within the past month, but remain in there because the families claim not to be in a position to or desire to take them home."

And he disclosed that an effort was on to work with other ministries and agencies to find a sustainable solution to the situation. Mr. Inniss added: "Government and private institutions that care for our elderly must, therefore, recognise the importance of creating an environment that provides mental, social and physical stimulation to the elderly population, since maintaining maximum functional capacity, physically, socially and psychologically is important for the elderly.

"Hence, priority must be given to rehabilitation and recreational therapy, where the elderly also have a right to recreation and exercise programmes which would allow them to get the most that they possibly can out of their minds and bodies."??

Stating that Barbados’ situation was no different from world trends with Barbadians living longer and healthier lives than ever before, he remarked, "these improvements in life expectancy and freedom from disease for most of an average person’s life are a testimony to the health care system of which we can be proud."??

Mr. Inniss, nonetheless, underlined that the achievements did not come without challenges for his Ministry and the families, whose elderly developed chronic illnesses in the latter phase of their lives requiring life-long treatment.

Participants were, however, assured of the Health Ministry’s commitment to promoting the United Nations Principles for Older Persons that are founded on the need to build an inclusive society that emphasises participation, self-fulfillment, independence, care and dignity for all.??

He maintained: "To achieve these objectives, my Ministry, through its Care of the Elderly Programme, will continue its efforts to provide comfortable surroundings, through a programme of ongoing maintenance and refurbishment at its geriatric care institutions; we will provide continuous in-service training to upgrade the knowledge and skills of persons working with the elderly."

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