According to the draft document, the particulars of convicted abusers will be entered into a National Register of Elderly Persons, which is to be kept by the newly-established Council of Elderly Social Welfare Services, a section of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of People Empowerment.
“The act prohibits any person whose name appears in the register from operating or being employed at any place including a residence, that gives access or care to the elderly.
“The victim may be removed from home to a place of safety by the Council of Elderly Social Welfare Services or the Family Division of the Barbados Supreme Court, where required,” the document outlines.
The Elderly Persons Bill 2022 is intended to protect, promote and maintain the rights, well-being and security of all elderly persons in Barbados. It aims to fight all abuses of ‘at-risk’ elderly persons.
According to the draft document, elderly refers to any person who, in the case of a male, is 65 years of age or older and, in the case of a female, is 60 years of age or older.
Abuse of an elderly person occurs when any person in a relationship where there is an expectation of trust does something or fails to do something that causes harm or distress, or is likely to cause harm or distress, to an elderly person.
During a press conference at his Strathclyde, St Michael office, on Thursday, attorney-at-law, Corey Beckles, who along with legal assistant Anthony Hinds authored the legislation, said the document which has been handed over to the Ministry of Elder Affairs also makes provision for the establishment of the Elderly Welfare Council.
Beckles said the council, which can be compared to a board, will be designed to manage elder affairs.
He added that the legislation also allows for police officers to have more flexibility and authority to act on reports regarding elderly abuse.
“They wouldn’t be castigated for taking an action that some may deem drastic. Yes, there are drastic actions, but when we are looking at the protection of the elderly there may be emergency situations that the present law may not be able to protect the police in the event that they decide to go into a property.
“This legislation gives the police officers the teeth. It also would appoint certain officials, pursuant to the act, to have powers similar to a police officer to be able to do the same thing,” Beckles said. He added that the Mental Health Act and other laws also have to be amended in order for the legislation to work when it is approved by Parliament.
In February 2022, Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs Kirk Humphrey accused some businesses, relatives and others of taking advantage of elderly people and abusing them. He suggested that the Government needs to be more responsive to address these problems.
Humphrey cried shame on those individuals and said that there were people who were moving into the homes of elderly people and asserting themselves falsely as family or caretakers and using that position to take advantage of the elderly.