Age Concern calls for study into senior care
The executive director of charity Age Concern said this week that a long-term plan is needed to help Bermuda deal with an elderly-care time bomb.
Claudette Fleming said a study of the island’s senior care needs was vital to help draw up plans for the future.
Ms Fleming said: “We need this data to ensure we execute the right financing models and long-term care options that are needed in Bermuda.
“The long-term care research and data void, and insidious demand for long-term care services, is dangerous ground for the exploitation of seniors, as new long-term care business ideas are being birthed daily with limited co-ordination, planning and articulation of a national vision.”
Ms Fleming was speaking at the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club at a meeting of Hamilton Rotary Club on Tuesday.
She said that older people themselves, their families and government share the huge responsibility for care of the elderly.
Ms Fleming said: “According to the Department of Health, 49 per cent of seniors live below the income threshold of $30,000 a year.
“This is the state of affairs as current rest home and nursing home care can range from a staggering $42,000- $144,000 per year.”
She added: “On the one hand, we have an ageing population in which almost half are below the income threshold, and millions of tax dollars already committed to maintaining the status quo.
“On the other hand, we have an ageing population that by many other accounts are not generally healthy, yet who also have an ideal for wellbeing, good health and income security.”
Ms Fleming said both political parties had stressed the need for private investment in senior care, but she added a balance needs to be found to ensure that the needs of seniors are taken care of.
Ms Fleming said that profitmaking must not be the sole motive for new long-term care developments or programmes.
She added that new business ventures in the sector should include qualified specialists.
Ms Fleming said tough regulations were needed to check up on long-term care homes before any new ones were built.
She added: “We must not engage in public-private partnerships that are not properly vetted through a robust tendering process.
“We must not delay the evaluation and relevancy of existing public funding and the needed examination of whether existing dollars are making the desired impact.
“We must not politicise, unduly simplify or even glamourise the very thoughtful, bipartisan effort that is needed to achieve long-term care solutions with the input of all segments of our community.”
Ms Fleming said the island should be open to foreign investment.
She added: “In doing so, we must not become unduly enamoured or preoccupied with the potential for foreign investment, but with caution and consideration make our plans with an informed view of what’s best for Bermuda and Bermudians.”