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Government falling short on long term care for seniors

Claudette Fleming, executive director of Age Concern Bermuda (Photograph supplied)

Government has consistently fallen short on addressing long-term care for seniors, the executive director of Age Concern Bermuda charged this week.

Claudette Fleming spoke after the continued shortage of hospital beds at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital was revealed on Monday.

Delays in discharging elderly patients were among the main causes cited – including a lack of space in care homes to take seniors ready to leave King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.

“Until we fix the long-term care situation, we can expect this not to change,” Dr Fleming said. “Capacity of homes is not getting any greater.”

She said the island might not need more facilities to accommodate its elderly so much as “sustained resources and an action plan for long term care”.

“We now have a seniors minister,” she added, highlighting Tinée Furbert’s appointment to the portfolio along with social development. “Has she been equipped with a support system and the funding? I know the Government knows the problem is there, and it won’t be going anywhere.

“Right now 49 per cent of the population is 50 years and above. We’re heading further into it, not away from it, and yet we do not have comprehensive, consistent resources to deal with it.

“In the first instance, we are not talking necessarily money but leadership and an administrative infrastructure.”

Dr Fleming said the “low-hanging fruit” could include an investment in safe care at home.

She added: “Not everyone needs to go into an institution.

“But they may need their home to be equipped. They may require occupational therapy or funding.”

Dr Fleming said of the Government: “The leadership rests with them.

“Until we start to see an administrative body where that is their job, we’re not going to get anywhere. We need a sustained, coordinated administrative effort on long-term care planning and execution.”

Ms Furbert, who was travelling earlier this week, was unavailable for comment after queries from The Royal Gazette.

The issue was touched upon in the Progressive Labour Party’s platform ahead of the last General Election in October 2020, which pledged inflation-linked annual pension increases for seniors and a break on land tax for care homes.

The facilities have struggled to meet high property costs combined with a lack of capital and high staffing requirements, according to a 2018 government report.

The lack of housing for seniors was also highlighted one year ago by the financial advice service Senior Solutions.

The firm said elderly patients were lingering in continuing care at the hospital.

Patrice Horner of Senior Solutions said “there simply aren’t enough properly equipped facilities or ways to bring people home”.

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Published July 15, 2021 at 7:54 am (Updated July 15, 2021 at 7:27 am)

Government falling short on long term care for seniors

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