After refurbishments, which took just over three months, two wards at the Geriatric Hospital were handed over by the Rotary Club of Barbados recently and Minister of Health Donville Inniss and Hospital Manager, Joanell Oxley-Worrell, were on hand to see the outcome of the non-governmental service organisation’s work.
While reminding those gathered that the percentage of persons over age 65 was increasing, Inniss noted that he was “deeply grateful and appreciative” of the work carried out as the ministry continued to be challenged to meet the accommodation, nursing and clinical needs of elderly Barbadians.
“Non-governmental organisations such as Rotary [Club], really do step up to the plate and get involved in meaningful projects to touch the lives of ordinary Barbadians. It is really in keeping with the Rotary motto-service above self…
“Unless you are in the system, unless you have an elderly mother or father to care for, you don’t appreciate the challenges that we have in providing the best possible environment for the elderly. Every day we receive numerous calls … asking us to take individuals into our facilities to care for them…
“You did not have to do it but you have made a wonderful contribution not just to the Geriatric Hospital here in Beckles Road, but more importantly to the enhancement of elderly care services in Barbados,” he stated.
Inniss revealed that numerous individuals were waiting to be transferred to long-term facilities and his Ministry was spending $6.5 million a year accommodating some 220 patients in the Alternative Care of the Elderly programme, an initiative which placed elderly patients in private nursing homes.
He noted that through a recent shift in policy, the details of which were still being worked out, the programme could be expanded without compromising quality.
“Any individual recommended to come under the programme for long-term care will have to have a socio-economic assessment to determine what contribution they can make to their care. The numbers could be increased by 30 per cent by making that paradigm shift,” he emphasised.
The average cost of each patient per month in a private nursing home is approximately $2,000, exclusive of clinical care.
The minister also thanked the Geriatric Hospital staff who work under some less than ideal conditions and asked Rotary to continue their partnership with the Hospital. Recently a new kitchen was unveiled and other areas earmarked to be upgraded.
He also revealed that permission had been given to recruit additional staff to ease the burden on nurses and the graduation of nurses in from the new gerontology programme at the Barbados Community College would help meet the needs of caring for elderly Barbadians.
Refurbishments included the tiling of bathrooms, ceiling restoration, the repainting of walls and the replacement of doors and windows, facilitating greater ventilation and daylight. Electrical lighting and nursing stations were also retrofitted.
“This work should be recognised for its monetary value but it is also appreciated for the enhancement of the living and working conditions of the elderly and caregivers respectively,” Oxley-Worrell stated.
President of Rotary Club of Barbados, Tony Williams, expressed satisfaction that the club could make life more comfortable for the 36 seniors who reside in wards 9A and 10A at the institution.