In the year 2000, twelve per cent of Barbados’ population was over 65 years old. The number rose to 13 per cent in 2010 and by 2050 it is expected to be 17 per cent.
With more people living longer, health care expenditure is expected to increase, so Senior Medical Health Officer in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Kenneth George, is calling for the ministry to change its focus on long term care for the elderly.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY this morning at the Barbados Elderly Care Association’s Raising The Bar In Elderly Care seminar at Hotel PomMarine Hotel in Hastings Christ Church, he said he believed community home care and services were, instead, the way to go.
George said ultimately to maintain elderly people in respite care was not only more cost effective but more wholesome for the individuals, therefore institutionalisation should not be to the first option.
“[The Ministry of Health] had a home and community base task force which was sanctioned by the Government, … and they came up with some recommendations. Those recommendations included: having a discharge policy pertaining to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to make sure that from the time the an elderly person enters, that preparations are being made, you work with the family trying to get them back to their homes,” he said.
He added: “That has taken off and that committee is in place… so we are looking at discharge planning as a way to get people reintegrated back into their communities.
“There was also a lack of occupational therapy and rehabilitative services and the task force did identify that was a major issue because if you have a person who had a stroke you have to try to get them back some form of functionality and that has to be through good clinical care but also it has to be through good rehabilitative care.
“For example, a daughter who wants to work or a caregiver who may just require a break but she can’t leave her father at home during†the day, a facility needs to be there that they can get adult day care. We need to look at models like assisted living, look at those models where persons will require minimal supervision because sometimes that is all they need.
“So I think … BECA and other organisations needs to be more proactive in the services they give. A lot of them, we know they aim for a profit† and we know they want to produce good health care but at the same time they need to look at other model that are available.
“To house a person in hospital is quoted always as about $1,100 per day, we know for geriatric hospitals it is about $350 to $400 per day but whenever we have people in the community, community based care always comes out less, plus then they are still among family and friends,” said George. (KC)††††