Minister of Health, Donville Inniss

While it is the intention of the Ministry of Health to put care of the elderly on the front burner next financial year, members of the public are also being urged to play their part and assume more responsibility for their elderly.

This was the clear message sent today by Health Minister, Donville Inniss, as he spoke with the media, following a near two-hour tour of the Geriatric Hospital on Beckles Road.

While stating that challenges at that health care institution reflected what was happening in the wider society, in terms of care of the elderly, Minister Inniss said:  "We believe that too often our older folk are not being afforded the level of care or quality of care they so rightfully deserve. If I can be very candid and very frank, I don’t think as a nation we should be having those men and women, who toil over the years to help build up our society, being cast a side in the evening of their days.”

Minister Inniss in a forthright fashion, also warned: “We may have to get a bit more radical when it comes to care for the elderly in Barbados, I know very well as a politician that there are elderly folk who are institutionalised; their relatives do not even visit them; but the minute they closed their eyes and go to their maker, you see everybody scrambling to get hold of the property they left behind.

“I am of the view that if the state has to provide care for the elderly, once those elderly folk closed their eyes, we must find a way in which the state can be compensated for such care. If this is what it takes to get Barbadians to show more love, care and attention to their elderly folk, then we would have to do it! But, I do not think it is fair for the state to be carrying the entire burden when some of these individuals may have assets that could be used to take care of them in their golden years.”

The Minister, however, admitted that this would of course call for “a lot of investigative work”.

The Geriatric Hospital, which will commemorate 125 years in 2009, currently
provides residential care to approximately 300 patients.

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