Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, addressing participants of the National Seminar on the Alzheimer’s Disease at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

Government’s geriatric hospitals are unable to fulfill the demand for residential care of the elderly population, and as a result, have been relying on the Alternative Care of the Elderly programme to do so.??

Word of this has come from Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, who was delivering remarks today at the National Seminar on the Alzheimer’s Disease hosted by the National Committee on Ageing, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

"We are currently challenged with space constraints in the Ministry.?? We have only the ability to accommodate 625 elderly individuals within the St. Michael, St. Lucy, St. Philip and Gordon Cummins District Hospitals.?? Of course, they are assisted by primary nursing homes, which currently have just over 200 elderly individuals under their care, who are part of the Alternative Care of the Elderly Programme.

"With Barbados being an ageing population, where there are approximately 37,000 individuals over the age of 65, which translates to about 14 or 15 per cent of our population, you can well imagine that the state funding agencies, departments and facilities are indeed challenged to accommodate the large numbers that we have.?? I believe on any given day there are approximately 115 individuals waiting to get admission to our elderly care facilities," Mr. Inniss disclosed.

The Minister added that improvements were being made to the Ministry’s ageing plant and renovations had been completed at some of the district hospitals, while work was ongoing at others.

Noting that the St. Lucy District Hospital would soon be able to accommodate 25 more elderly persons, he said: "That is not enough because we are really not talking about expanding the plant, but about the fact that we need to provide more residential care for the elderly that are in this society. The Ministry of Health is currently evaluating plans for expansion at the St. Lucy District Hospital and possibly St. Philip District Hospital as well."????

Mr. Inniss also disclosed that, in light of its commitment to the care of the elderly, his Ministry had seen the need for nurses to specialise in Gerontology and, starting this month, three Barbadians had begun a one-year programme in this subject at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica.???? He added that it was Government’s intention to have the Barbados Community College, thereafter, specialising in a nursing programme on Gerontology.??????

"It makes no sense recognising that we have challenges among the elderly in our society and do not make the investment in terms of training our nurses in that specific area of care," he remarked.

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