St John MP cries out over living conditions of elderly couple
The state may have to intervene in removing a Bath, St John couple from living in filth and squalor after efforts by their Member of Parliament proved futile. A concerned Mara Thompson is exploring her last option in getting Eric Watson, 83, and Cecilia Severin, 73, out of these unhealthy and dangerous conditions.
However, the couple remain adamant they would prefer to have fixed the house which they have occupied for more than two decades now.
A heart-wrenching sight greeted the visiting Barbados TODAY team this week. In their two-by-four wooden home, clearly falling to pieces, a blind and helpless Severin remains bedridden, while Watson, her partner of just over 29 years, unable to take care of her, or himself, shows negative signs of his advanced years. And, the large cracks in the walls, ceiling and crumbling floor leave them exposed to the elements –– and to rodents.
A strong stench lingered in the air from the dirt and residue on the floor boards and partitions, and the mattress on which Severin rests every day. Watson too sleeps on this mattress in the glow of their only night light that comes from an oil lamp.
The only assistance the couple receive is from kind-hearted neighbour Gloria Brathwaite and her family. Brathwaite sees to it that the two receive meals, and that they are as clean and tidy as is possible; but she told Barbados TODAY that there was “only so much” she could do for Severin and Watson.
“I’ve got a brother at home who had an artery burst in his head, and his wife bring him back home from New York; and just how I deal with my mother and sister before they died, I does have to deal with him.”
Of the elderly couple, Brathwaite said: “I does send the breakfast on mornings, and lunch, and then at night supper. Sometimes, my grandchildren’s mother would come over and help me clean them up . . . . [Severin] sick, and come out of hospital about two weeks ago. We tell them don’t send she home ’cause he can’t even do for her,” Brathwaite said, adding that she believed intervention was needed to help the two.
Watson’s elderly sister, who requested anonymity, said she too was afraid and concerned about the conditions in which her brother and his St Lucian-born partner were living. She believes they should be placed in a nursing home or institution –– even if it meant the decision being made for them.
“I think that is the best place for them, because she [Severin] doesn’t have any family, as far as I know. And, he has five children; but the children ain’t no help to him whatsoever . . . . He say he don’t want to go in no home, but the condition in the house bad. Them don’t suit getting no house; them suit somewhere like in a home.
“I can’t take care of them. I am not able because I suffer with my back,” the sister said.
Meanwhile, MP Thompson said when she came across the vulnerable couple living in this unsuitable house, she immediately sought assistance for them, contacting various Government agencies. She said an evaluation of the circumstances determined a caring institution would be best for them.
However, while her search ended successfully and she eventually found somewhere to place the two, Thompson explained the couple were unwilling to leave the “disgusting site”. The MP said she even had a priest visit to speak to them.
“Despite getting the social worker to go there, and finding somewhere that they [couple] could actually be institutionalized, they are not in agreement; and that presented a problem. How do we get them to move out if you can’t move them against their will?
“I would like to find out from other authorities where to go now. After trying so hard to find somewhere to get them into I was quite taken aback when they didn’t want to go anywhere. I was trying to find them somewhere that they can both go. It hasn’t ended for me, though. I am hoping that at some stage I will get through to them,” St John representative Thompson stressed.
Meanwhile, Severin and Watson are holding out that they do not want to be removed from their abode, and indicated they were holding on to the hope the dilapidated place would be rebuilt.
“We want the house to get fix, and the flooring to get do. We want the house fix; it very bad. I ain’t want to go nowhere,” a determined Watson stated. His partner sang the same tune.
“It is 29 years that me and he was together,” Severin said softly as she lay covered in sheets.
“We have been living together long. When I did bout here she did doing for me, and I don’t left she out,” declared Watson, former fisherman.
“I ain’t separating from she; we did living too long. She do for me and I do for she. We live too close and I ain’t leaving she out!”