A Government minister is sounding a stern warning to people operating unlicensed day care centers and homes for the elderly – “We’ll be coming after you!”
Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs Cynthia Forde says the administration will be looking to place strict sanctions on those persons who have not registered their care-giving facilities.
“I believe that we need to get the legislation upgraded or amended to be able to put in certain clauses that would bind daycare owners or managers as well as the members of staff and even the families who seem to be the ones causing more hurt, pain and destruction to the seniors than the people in the care-giving community,” Forde told Barbados TODAY.
“We are trying to put certain protocols and amendments in place whether it be to address social, sexual, or financial aspects. We are having more and more seniors coming on board everyday and they need to be protected. They need to be offered opportunities to keep them healthy and alert,” she said.
Forde, who is also Member of Parliament for St Thomas made the comments even as another video surfaced on social media showing an elderly man being subjected to violence by a care provider. The minister told Barbados TODAY that the National Assistance Board (NAB) was investigating the matter.
“You would have seen the picture last month of the caregiver standing in the belly of a client in one of the private homes. I sent it out to the NAB and I believe that they would have done their investigations,” she said, adding that some of the reports of elder abuse are not coming through the professional channels but they are coming through employees that anonymously send video via social media.
“Individuals are writing and calling us to say that they are working in homes that are not properly registered so that is another problem. Or they are working in homes where the practices are below par and as a result they are uncomfortable but that is the only form of employment they have so they do not want to jeopardize it, but they would want the institutions investigated,” she told Barbados TODAY.
Forde said that the NAB needs to be given more ‘teeth’ to protect the caregivers who attend to the elderly who may have mental illnesses such as alzheimers or dementia.
“You would appreciate that we want to protect our staff too. Because people with alzheimers when their heads turn, they would blame their own children for [stealing] their money, jewelry and stuff. Those laws need to be upgraded so that the safety of the workers as well as that of the leaders in the institution are not taken through the mill and punished as a result of somebody with alzheimer’s or dementia making a report,” she told Barbados TODAY.
Other standards to be updated would address such issues as ensuring the elderly have defined access to proper entrances and exits, beds as well as meals.
“Those are some of the protocols, but the registration is critical at this time because you need a police certificate of character for some of these workers as well. You need the fire service to say there is a proper exit and entrance. You need the Ministry of Health to say we have given permission,” she added.
“Let us look at it critically and see how we can shape legislation and send it to Cabinet and then to Parliament and see how we can have it properly ventilated in public, so that those who are not familiar will fall in line and those who continue to breach the rules be shut down,” Forde stressed.
The minister said that her goal for 2019 is to ensure that all elderly persons in Barbados can be active and age with grace.