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Improvement on services for senior citizens

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Keeona Belboda (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Services offered to seniors have seen “significant improvements” over the past year, according to the manager of the Ageing and Disability Services. Keeona Belboda told The Royal Gazette that while the service still received complaints about rest and nursing homes, “it was not to the degree it was a year ago”.

“We have seen improvements. The complaints we get the most now is that there is inadequate food being prepared or how a particular family will feel that certain staff are not attentive to providing the care that they should be.”

However, she said food complaints had decreased overall in the past year because all rest and nursing homes “should keep a two-week supply of food in stock and our nutritionist has been working with some of the homes and assisting with their menus and what they should be preparing”.

The team has also seen “significant improvements” when it followed up on last year’s August residential care home inspections in March, Ms Belboda said.

“That is due to the huge groundwork we’ve been doing. We’ve been getting out there. When abuse complaints get called in, we go out right away.”

The ADS, formerly known as the National Office of Seniors and Physically Challenged, came under fire last year after an investigation by this newspaper exposed senior abuse cases that had slipped under its radar. When the office was renamed in September, Ms Belboda pledged to get tougher on seniors abuse with harsher penalties and stricter admission laws for carers among the proposed legislative and regulatory amendments.

Although legislative amendments are still “a work in progress”, Ms Belboda said the team now had a policy analyst on staff.

“There has been a consultation process. The Senior Law Reform Committee did significant work on the senior abuse register act and we’re building upon that.”

Ms Belboda, who is also the registrar for seniors abuse, added: “Our big thing is the improvements to residential care homes, us liaising with the administrators to get more buy-in for improving their services, as well as the current amendments to the legislation that are under way.”

According to Ms Belboda, ADS has been enforcing monthly meetings with all the residential care home administrators.

Topics covered include nutrition, environmental health, nursing and proper record-keeping and have been well received, she said.

“We find that the administrator meetings are really beneficial in terms of just informing them of the standard they should be operating at.”

Ms Belboda said the registration of homes with the ADS has also progressed, details of which can be found on the Bermuda Health Council website.

“We really needed to have some clarity and the public needed to have some confidence in what currently exists,” Ms Belboda said. “We wanted to be able to publish in a place where we can inform the public what’s out there based on who meets conditional criteria versus who meets full registration.”

Ms Belboda said 11 of the island’s 22 homes were conditionally registered and one was not registered in September last year. Now, only five homes are conditionally registered, “meaning they have to meet certain requirements to be fully registered”.

Ms Belboda explained that the homes had been given a year to get up to standard and added: “Right now the homes are meeting minimum standards but we are looking to enforce best practice standards as of April 1, 2017.”

Improvements had also been made to ADS’s internal policies, she said. “We’ve been doing a much better job in terms of getting back to the public and addressing the concerns in a timely manner.”

However, Ms Belboda said some people still had misconceptions about ADS’s role regarding placement. “We do not have a placement component,” she said. “We advise families on the needs of their loved ones, on the facilities that will best facilitate that care and we make recommendations but it is the family’s responsibility to place and if a family wants a client to move from one residential care home to another, again, that is on the family to orchestrate that move.”

For more information, call ADS on 292-7802 or the Ministry of Health on 278-4900.

Keeona Belboda (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Ageing and Disability Services is a referral and resource agency that ensures people get assistance with services for daily living and is responsible for the following:

Case Management

• Connects seniors and persons with disabilities to community resources

• Conducts assessments and works with clients and their families to develop case plans for improved quality of life

• Assists with investigations of senior abuse

Long-Term Care

• Awareness and advocacy for seniors and healthy ageing

• Screens and processes new applications for operation of residential care homes and adult daycare

• Monitoring and inspection of long-term care homes

• Promotes ageing at home and assists with alternative long-term care solutions

Disability Services

• Awareness and advocacy for persons with disabilities

• Monitors buildings and dwellings for accessibility requirements

• Provides information on new technology and adaptive equipment