Barbados’ large elderly population, many of them now living in “dire” housing conditions, needs “urgent” help.
Government Senator Apostle Dr. David Durant, who has served as National Assistance Board’s deputy chairman for the past five years, appealed for help in this area today, and suggested the establishment of a special unit to help.
He was speaking in the Upper House as debate on the White Paper on Aging continued. Durant said the elderly had contributed significantly to Barbados, including “the creation of wealth in a society that is now enjoyed by all age groups” and they deserved better, especially in the area of housing.
“I am happy to see the recommendation in this policy to allocate 10 per cent of the houses in the Government housing programme to the elderly in view of their increase because our population is aging and accommodation is needed,” he stated.
“For an active aging population we need more housing villages for our elderly. Government can’t do everything so this is an appeal for corporate Barbados … the unions, as well as insurance companies to come on board and to help us in this area.” He wanted speedier repairs for homes housing the island’s senior citizens, at least 450 who lived alone.
“I am hoping also for the speedy repairs to the homes of some of our elderly. Since the housing repairs have been carried to the Urban and Rural Development (Commissions) things have slowed down considerably, I guess because that department is very busy, so they have so much to do that many of the elderly some of them their homes are in need of repair,” he noted.
“I would recommend therefore instead of leaving everything to the Rural and Urban Development why not have a special unit … specially catering to the repairs of the homes of the elderly, which I am sure we will get a faster turnaround and a much speedier repairs done.
“For example, there could be rotten flooring, hanging and broken windows in some cases, leaking roofs and so forth, and it’s a safety issue and that’s why I am saying that we need a more urgent attention to those homes that need repairs.” Durant said the damaged homes were not only a danger to their residents but also care givers.
“It’s not only a danger to the elderly person, but also to the home care worker who is visiting that home on a daily basis to cook, to clean, to bathe them, to tidy up the place,” he pointed out.
“Also to a visiting doctor who may come to visit that elderly person to administer whatever they have to do, or a visiting nurse. Also, some elderly people live in homes without indoor sanitation and this is a challenge to the elderly as it relates to accessibility and health conditions. (SC)