Abusing elderly people in old people’s homes and dumping them in hospital may become a crime under new legislation proposed by Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs Cynthia Forde.
And the victims would be relocated by the State, she told journalists Wednesday.
“I pray that the Government will look at instituting legislation to say those who are abusing elders in whichever way, they might be brought to justice,” she said on the sidelines of a presentation by Eden Lodge Youth Charitable Trust at the Cloister Bookstore, The City.
The anti-abuse provisions may be included in new regulations that are being drafted to oversee privately run senior citizens’ homes, she said.
“I feel that proper regulation should be done especially for private senior homes that they should be able to meet a certain criteria and that once they make that criteria a registered nurse is always on the compound. Because you would appreciate that those seniors need to have medication and the nursing aids and so may not – those who have done the course on the elderly – may not have the efficiency of giving the medication and all of that,” she said.
“And I trust that as the weeks go by that we would be able to come up with a concept paper to be able to take it to Cabinet so that the regulation will be put in place and those who are taken advantage of, in the same way we have done it for the children at the Child Care Board – children who are abused, abandoned . . . are put into care – we would have to find facilities to do that for our senior citizens as well,” Forde said.
There has been an increase in the numbers of old people being abandoned at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), she told reporters, though she could not immediately provide any figures.
“I am sorry it has increased and not only in the hospital. Many of them are being left in their homes alone. Many of them are being abused everyday sexually, physically and emotionally,” Forde said.
“I think it is unreasonable and unfair that the pillars in our society that have built this economy through the agriculture work they did, through the domestic work that they did, now that they are in their twilight years, that they are being treated so badly,” she said.
Many senior citizens were also being cheated out of properties and the elder affairs minister said this should end.
“Let us make a good smooth path for them instead of cheating them out of their property, or instead of dumping them alongside the road or shutting them away and not properly looking after them. And therefore, I am proud to see where we have come thus far except for the elder abuse that is permeating every community in our society.
The minister is also banking on the increase in non-contributory pension, announced on June 11, to allow seniors to have a better quality of life.
“So the persons would be a little happier than before ’cause some of them do not like to go to various government agencies. Sometimes, the medication is not there at the pharmacies, sometimes the medication that they give them is new is not what they like as they have grown accustomed to a certain kind. So they would rather go to the private pharmacies to make their purchase over the counter. Therefore it is [in] that kind of spirit that I believe . . . they can get a better quality of life . . . . So the pensioners are happy that recognition has been given and that they can get a little more,” she said.
“If they are going to get $15 more, they can still buy a pack of oranges and a pack of tomatoes, especially those who are down with diabetes,” the minister said, adding insurance premiums, land tax bills, even “the plumber” to the list of additional expenses the pensioners could now be better able to meet.