The head of the organization charged with looking after the welfare of Barbados’ elderly has called for a system of reporting abuse of the aged, along with closer monitoring of private care centres.
Chairman of the National Assistance Board (NAB) Pastor David Durant made the call at the weekend as he delivered the sermon at the NAB’s 36th anniversary church service.
Stating that Government was working on strengthening legislation “to further protect senior citizens from various forms of abuse meted out to them, especially physical and financial”, he said such legal provisions should, “make sure there is adequate care, security, and well-being among senior citizens, especially in the privately-owned institutional care facilities. We need to maybe monitor the privately owned facilities”.
Durant went on to call for the creation of “a national elder abuse reporting system, something that is very easy for people to call into . . . you don’t have to identify yourself”.
Speaking against a backdrop of reported cases of elderly abuse on the island in recent months, he said that if Barbadians were seeing “elderly people being abused, battered, financially exploited, raped . . . then it is important to create a simple system, yet one that is very strong and robust where that level of abuse can be reported”.
He appealed for help of media houses to, “make the public more aware of the various forms of elderly abuse”.
“This is of utmost urgency since the 65-years-and-over age group is the fastest growing demographic in Barbados today. It is therefore important that we do all we can to protect them from the various forms of abuse and abandonment”.
Durant’s remarks came as Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett cautioned NAB members about complacency and declining standards, which he said could negatively impact service delivery and erode the gains made by the NAB over the past 36 years.
“The elderly are often socially excluded and isolated, they are not treated with dignity and worth and participation in activities to promote active ageing based on their needs and capacities is limited,” he said.