Sagicor Financial Corporation has entered into a major partnership with the Barbados Community College (BCC) as it prepares for the opening of its multi-million dollar senior citizens retirement village in St George.
The two institutions signed a memorandum of understanding on Wednesday, cementing a partnership that will see, among other things, the development of a curriculum focusing on the care of the elderly that will be taught at the college’s Division of Health Sciences in collaboration with the Canadian-based Origin Active Lifestyle.
All categories of workers to be employed at the Estates at the St George retirement community will also receive special training.
Work on the $170 million project started in March, and when completed in the next three years, will consist of some 328 units in Boarded Hall, St George, catering to more than 170 retirees 55 years and older in both independent living and assisted care.
Describing the Estates at St George as an innovation, Principal of the BCC Annette Alleyne said the signing of the MOU signalled that there is movement from the planning to the implementation stage.
Alleyne said the approach to training the care providers will involve the college’s Nursing Department in the Division of Health Sciences, the Hospitality Institute and the Industry Services Unit.
“The Barbados Community College, as we enter into this agreement, will focus on the delivery of students with a professionalism and maturity that will be evident in how care is delivered. We will operate from the highest principles and ideals, follow best practices and embrace only standards that reinforce that there is no shortcut to excellence,” promised Alleyne.
Besides providing training for the caregivers and staff of the 20-acre retirement village, the programme will be opened to the general public.
Under the MOU, the BCC will also establish an experiential training lab, which Alleyne said was “a welcomed addition” to the college’s resources.
No date has yet been set for the expansion and enhancement to the nursing programme or the opening of the lab, which is to be in the Language Centre.
But officials said the MOU was indefinite and once reconstruction of the Language Centre was completed the training would begin.
Alleyne said the partnership was an example of the college moving away from “the Cinderella syndrome” where Prince Charming (Government) is being awaited, “to save us and fix every problem we are facing”.
“We need to lead the charge and send a message to our students that they too can figure out methods and procedures for facing the challenges they encounter,” she said.
Pointing to research, Acting Minister of Education Senator Lucille Moe said with total life expectancy for Barbados being about 74.3 and as the island continues to witness a high number of centenarians, elderly care was critical.
Describing the Estates at St George as a timely venture, Moe said it came as Government continues to seek ways to ensure a high standard of living for, and continuous development of all citizens.
Welcoming the collaboration, Moe added: “Health care across the globe is undergoing rapid transformation, and people are living longer. Training must respond to these changing needs of the population, and tertiary institutions must adapt to ensure that their programmes remain relevant and viable.”
Officials reported “good progress” with the sale of the units in the village.
Addressing the gathering, Director of Sagicor Financial Corporation Dr Jeannine Comma said the experiential lab was a novel idea, adding that the partnership will result in an enhancement in the skills and attitude of caregivers across Barbados.
“Aging is simply a transition into a different stage of life. Other countries appreciate and admire this transition of life and respect and welcome their elders into society as an integral part of existence. So in Barbados if we want to change the attitude and circumstances around the caring of our elder, we must first develop a new perspective on aging and caring for our seniors. Consequently, our conversations, our approaches and our practices must be elevated and widely disseminated,” she said.