It has taken too long for successive governments to bring a comprehensive package of measures to help elderly Barbadians.
That’s the view of Government Senator Reginald Hunte, who said he was happy that the current administration had taken the major step of introducing a White Paper On Aging.
He was speaking in the Upper House during debate on that policy today, and noted that many of the policies within the document discussed had been formulated for up to 17 years in some instances and regretted that “it has now gotten to this chamber for debate and passage”.
“I do not wish to approbate and reprobate at the same time. I have said you don’t push a button and get things done, but I still do not understand why a document like this in its final preparation form … would have taken so long to come to this chamber,” he said.
“Fifteen to 16 years to reach at this level for passage and I do not wish to be negative, I don’t think that this is the kind of resolution that could be negative, but there are a lot of social programmes that were pushed back in this country over the last 14 (to) 15 years. That help should have been in operation a long time ago.
“There is really no excuse for (not) implementing such…and I am very happy that I am able to be a member of the chamber at this point to have seen something like this before this chamber because one thing for sure (is) as long as you are living you are going to get to this stage,” he added.
The Democratic Labour Party spokesman said it was important to introduce policies like those in the white paper to offer the island’s senior citizens meaningful help, while protecting them from harm, which in some cases came from family members.
“No legislation can change attitudes and certain behaviours within certain families, but at least there will be something in place whereby … you have the necessary guidelines that can be followed to protect them and for them and for us to feel more comfortable when we reach that stage or that status,” he stated.
“When we reach there we can feel very, very comfortable that the administrations in Barbados are looking after the interest of the elderly.
“This has been started a long time ago, there are programmes in place that have looked after our elderly persons in this country.”
“This is not something that I have experienced in my own family and therefore I feel sad when I see, read and hear these things. I am a campaigner myself, I go to homes and I hear all kinds of things, people pull you aside and tell you these things and it really doesn’t go down well with me.
“I am glad to see that we are doing what we are suppose to do and that is as far as this particular document is concerned looking after the elderly in Barbados,” he said. (SC)