Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett is reporting that an undisclosed number of elderly persons here are suffering abuse in silence because of fear of punishment by those responsible for their care.
Against a backdrop of reports of elderly neglect and abuse, including a highly publicized case at a home for the elderly, Blackett urged victims to speak out.
He made the call Sunday while addressing a service at the Church of the Nazarene in Bank Hall, St Michael where members of social care agencies had gathered to mark the start of activities leading up to World Elderly Abuse Awareness Day on June 15.
The minister spoke of worldwide documented evidence showing persons, including family members, caretakers, neighbours and institutions, “have been disrespectful, actively harming and abusing some older adults in many fundamental ways”, including sexual and psychological abuse.
Focusing on what happens locally, Blackett said: “Almost on a daily basis, it is common for the social services agencies in Barbados, especially the National Assistance Board, to receive reports of older adults being ill-treated; improper use of older persons finances; poor quality of care; and sometimes abandonment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
“It has been recognized that to a great extent many older persons, or adults, do not report these acts, or are afraid to disclose to others because of fear of reprisals from the perpetrators.
“This is a situation which the ministry of social care wants to redress as a matter of urgency. And as such victims of elder abuse are encouraged to report such violations of their human rights to the appropriate authority,” Blackett said.
The minister did not detail what new measures had been put in place to assist victims, but noted that the cases that were exposed had caused public outcry with calls for legislation to prosecute perpetrators.
He observed that the local situation occurred amidst projections that life expectancy at birth here would rise above the current 77 years.