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Budget will boost seniors

Needy seniors stand to benefit the most from a Budget commitment to add ten new beds to the Sylvia Richardson Care Facility, according to advocates for the elderly Age Concern.

The details emerged after the 2018-19 Budget allocated an extra $1.8 million to the Ministry of Health, which would include reopening of the fourth floor of the government-run centre in St George's.

Claudette Fleming, executive director of Age Concern Bermuda, said the extra spaces were “likely to have a greater degree of government subsidy then a private facility”.

She added: “They perhaps represent a more affordable option, that can in turn be accessible to the most vulnerable seniors of our community.

“I believe that the number of care beds remains at approximately 655,” Dr Fleming said. “So if more than 6 per cent of the current senior population, or 651 people, needed a long-term care bed, we would have a shortage.”

A ministry spokeswoman said the staffing would be needed before the ten-bed unit opened for seniors.

The Sylvia Richardson unit has been closed since September 2016. She added: “This work is under way now and the exact timing is dependent on that. The aim is to reopen as soon as practicable in the new fiscal year to provide residential skilled nursing care.”

Carol Everson, a seniors advocate and caseworker at the Bermuda Legion, said that even without a confirmed start date, any improvement in the number of beds for quality senior care was welcome.

Ms Everson said: “Nursing care and assisted living placements are urgently needed, as are beds for respite and palliative care. Going by national and international demographics, the number of new places needed in the very near future probably exceeds 500.

“The Ministry of Health has pointed out the vital need for home care strategies. Perhaps programmes successfully used in other countries could be considered — for instance, pension credits for family caregivers who have to leave the workforce in order to provide full-time care for a frail, elderly or disabled family member.

“The recent Budget provides some relief for Bermuda's seniors. This is most gratifying. The Government is to be congratulated on focusing directly and positively on seniors' needs at this time.”

Call for extra care beds: Claudette Fleming (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published February 26, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated February 26, 2018 at 6:47 am)

Budget will boost seniors

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