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!”


15 Responses to NO MOVING

  1. Sandy Whitlock
    Sandy Whitlock June 13, 2014 at 12:48 am

    It’s so sad that some elderly people have to live like this.

  2. Robert Holloway
    Robert Holloway June 13, 2014 at 1:18 am

    So sad, if the home found for them allows them to be together, then that might do the trick.. Very difficult and to read how supportive the neighbours are and their local MP… , lovely

  3. Annetta Paul
    Annetta Paul June 13, 2014 at 1:20 am

    I wonder if fixing the house and having some one come in to assist them for a few hours a day would be okay. Nobody likes changes especially the older folks. This is enough to send them into depression. They should fix the house.

  4. Sharon Woolley
    Sharon Woolley June 13, 2014 at 1:25 am

    The sister suffers with her back – doesn’t mean she couldn’t at least provide some meals for this poor couple, they are lucky they have an angel in their neighbour, it’s disgusting that no one else is helping them get out of this squalor

  5. Veroniva Boyce
    Veroniva Boyce June 13, 2014 at 4:20 am

    At least one or two companies in Barbados can donate the materials to repair the house and a carpenter, mason can work voluntary for the senior citizens. Giving something back to the community. The Sleeping giant need to introduce voluntary projects that will help equip the young people with skills and work experience. Come on Barbados, yes we need funds for day to day living but we need to show a lot more compassion and help each other.

    • Mi Shelle Aus Tin
      Mi Shelle Aus Tin June 13, 2014 at 12:25 pm

      it’s all well and good to be asking for donations to have the house repaired, but when the house is finished repairing, you will see the same children that he has, that never look after them, will be living there.

  6. Wallace Edwards-Fitt
    Wallace Edwards-Fitt June 13, 2014 at 7:35 am

    Old people don’t like to move from where it is familiar to them, that’s the problem. Sometimes when you moved them, they die. What is also sad, is to see that he has five children and not one can help out. Lord have mercy.

  7. Anna Lawrence
    Anna Lawrence June 13, 2014 at 8:48 am

    Veroniva Boyce I agree with you all the way, the simplest things ppl miss.

  8. Debbie Harrison
    Debbie Harrison June 13, 2014 at 9:39 am

    This is heartbreaking. Even if the repairs are made can they adequately be taken care of? I think that if they can be moved “together” that might persuade them. I think they are fearful of separation and that if that is guaranteed they would be more likely to agree to be relocated.

  9. Samantha June 13, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    So…fix up the house and let home help come in if they don’t want to leave.

  10. Heather June 13, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    How come the MP just came across them and this is her constituency?

  11. Julie Leenders
    Julie Leenders June 13, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    This is heartbreaking but I feel the government could do more for them,so the sister had a bad back ,so what I am sure she could still do her bit and WHERE ARE his 5 kids ,obviously don’t give a damn how there father lives,I bet they all would be round every day if they was loving in a nice house just to make sure they get there inheritance,thank god the neighbour had a heart bless her

  12. Sherida Rock June 13, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    This is something I would live to see in Barbadian use your skills to help out people like this that need. I would repair the home there’s retired Carpenters plumbers electrician and masons that can get together mannings courts cave Shephard can donate all the material to build and furnish the home and allow them to live there. All over Barbados the elderly is in the same boat..

  13. Twiggi June 14, 2014 at 12:59 am

    They will have to leave in order for the house to be fixed, and they seem adamant that they are not leaving…the sister with the bad back it is not hurting for you to talk so cook some food for them and ease that kind hearted neighbour who still has to look after her brother that his heartless wife sent back home….guess this line was not in her marriage vows….in sickeness and in health

  14. Michelle Richards June 14, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    I think that you should fix the house and send home help for them,to clean and wash, and give the neighbor an allowance to cook for them she is after all cooking 3 meals a day for them already,if she could continue


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