Barbados is getting its first stand-alone hospice and palliative care facility to cater for terminally ill persons.
The health care project, estimated to cost over $5 million, will be built on the property of the Roman Catholic Church-affiliated Living Water Community (LWC) at St David’s Christ Church.
Construction is expected to start this year and would be completed in 2017. A ceremony to unveil the site for the facility was held this morning.
The project is a joint venture between the LWC and the Barbados Association for Cancer Advocacy (BACA) to provide service to the underserved without respect to religion or other preconditions.
BACA’s president, Dr O’Neal Parris, said while there were government and non-governmental organizations currently offering palliative care, there were some people who could not benefit from these services.
He said while some people preferred to die at home among family and friends with the right resources in place, some patients did not have an option which provided the care, compassion and comfort that in an ideal world should be available to everyone.
The president of BACA, which has branches in the United States and Barbados, stressed that such a facility would stand in its own right and would neither replace nor compete with current home or institutional services.
“It would simply provide a missing option which is standard in the developed world and has been instituted in an increasing number of developing countries, he said.
“I ask again, why do we need a stand-alone hospice and palliative care facility? There is none in Barbados,” Dr Parris said.
He added: “There is an unmet need for patients with limited resources and family support or who are not in an institutional setting. It rounds out and completes the circle, making all options available to Barbadians.”
Speaking at the event, Minister of Health John Boyce lauded the efforts of those behind the facility which, he noted, would strengthen the quality of service offered to Barbadians.
Boyce noted that for patients with advanced progressive disease, palliative care offered the holistic management of pain and other distressing symptoms and embodied the provision of physical, psychological, social and spiritual support.
The Minister also indicated that the need for palliative care services was usually recognized for the latter stages of cancer-related illnesses but people with non-cancer disorders such as HIV/AIDS and chronic auto immune disorders could also benefit from these interventions.
He pointed out that as the rate of non-communicable diseases continued to increase, the need for such services would also increase.
“Barbadians at home and in the diaspora have shown tremendous willingness to contribute to the social and economic well-being of this country,” Boyce told the unveiling ceremony.
“You have demonstrated great commitment to this major initiative through your financial and technical generosity and I take this opportunity to once again thank you on behalf of the Government and people of Barbados.”
Funding for the hospice will come locally through BACA Barbados and in the diaspora, through a non-profit tax exempt entity and the Barbados Diaspora Collaborative USA whose mandate is to seek funding in the diaspora for major projects benefitting Barbados.
Spearheading the fundraising efforts is cancer survivor Neysha Soodeen who has vowed that she and a team were fully committed to reaching the target.