Govt calls for private sector to build more care homes
Government is calling on the private sector to build more residential care homes for seniors to satisfy a growing demand for facilities.
And it has also defended its record of policing private homes to ensure that elderly residents are not neglected or abused.
Government hit back following claims earlier this week by Shadow Seniors Minister Derrick Burgess that the elderly were being neglected by the One Bermuda Alliance administration.
Mr Burgess said three new rest homes were needed to cater to an increasingly aged population, but noted that Government had no plans to increase the number of facilities on the Island.
And he reeled off a catalogue of horror stories about the treatment of residents in some private homes which, he claimed, were ignoring regulations governing standards of care and needed to be shut down.
Last night a spokesman for the Ministry of Health and Seniors agreed that, because of Bermuda's “ageing demographic”, demand for residential care beds will increase.
“Where the Government differs from the Opposition is in the assumption of who should be responsible for providing additional spaces — the Government or the private sector,” the spokesman said.
“We agree that more residential care spaces will be needed in the future, but we would prefer to see the private sector take the lead in funding and providing those spaces. Where individuals and families have difficulty in affording long term care, Government can assist via Financial Assistance, but building and operating facilities should not be seen as primarily the role of the Government.”
Responding to claims by Mr Burgess that Government was failing to take action against homes that flouted regulations, the spokesman said that homes were regulated, inspected, registered and certified annually and were required to be in compliance for registration and licensing with the requirements according to a number of laws.
“Government's role is one of enforcement of the Residential Care Homes and Nursing Homes Act and Regulations, and this is currently carried out by a team of professionals led by the National Office for Seniors and the Physically Challenged,” the spokesman said.
“Homes are visited on a regular basis and complaints are responded to by additional visits. Where deficiencies are found, remedies are put in place.
“Complaints are logged at NOSPC through the intake worker who initially gathers the information and then forwards the alleged complaint to the Coordinator for Seniors and Acting Manager of NOSPC. The Coordinator for Seniors then contacts the home to report the alleged complaint and conducts an inspection for verification of the complaint.
“Random unannounced spot checks are done. Government's Elder Care Inspection Team inspects and monitors the residential care home for quality care and recommends continuous improvement as needed, followed up with written reports to home administrators; with recommendation for quality improvement.
“In 2014 there were 12 complaints registered with NOSPC with respect to residential care homes and nursing homes. Categories of complaint included nutrition, resident care and service, activities, environment and administration.
“When there are specific nursing complaints, the district nurse and health visitor are dispatched to the home to assess the situation and then report back to NOSPC with their findings. Complaints may be received verbally, in writing or anonymously. All complaints must be investigated.”
The spokesman also dismissed a claim by Mr Burgess that a civil servant had recently been appointed to match applicants with nursing homes but had not visited any homes to assess them for quality and risk.
“This statement is incorrect,” the spokesman said.
“The Community Assessment and Referral Team, which is manned by healthcare professionals, social workers, and operators of Government rest homes, is the body within Government which assists in the placement of individuals. Their job is to assess individuals, determine their needs and then match their needs with the appropriate facility. This system has been in place for some time.”