As part of efforts to raise the standards for the elderly in Guyana, the Ministry of Social Protection has identified a number of minimum guidelines by which elderly residential care facilities will be operated.
These standards envisaged for care for the elderly will ensure that older persons are respected; treated equally, fairly and with dignity; live a productive life; are in constant contact with their loved ones; are involved in the decision-making that affect their lives; and receive quality care in a comfortable and secure environment.
With the help of consultant Sharissa Barrow, nineteen minimum standards were identified.
These, Social Protection officials believe, are just the initial steps to commence the process of revolutionising the care for the elderly throughout Guyana. However, the officials have noted that caring for the elderly in Guyana faces a number of significant hurdles.
These challenges include the inability to attract and retain committed human resources, limited ownership from families (where available) to assist in the general care and welfare of the elderly, and poor management and accountability.
Obstacles are exacerbated by differing management arrangements, geographic vulnerabilities, and special needs of the targeted elderly population.
While the differences complicate the management and oversight of facilities providing care for the elderly, they also highlight the need for core minimum standards to establish a national framework for the care and protection of elderly in residential care; provide a common system for monitoring and regulating public and private elderly residential facilities, and allow for improved allocation of resources to elderly care facilities nationwide.
Consequently, the Ministry of Social Protection has identified a number of minimum standards through the level of elderly life will be lifted.
Further the Ministry outlined the minimum standards elderly residential care facilities have a documented and publicly available admissions policy; residents’ human rights are respected and maintained within the facility there is an established procedure to receive, act upon, and respond to complaints from residents or their sponsors and advocates.
Among the guidelines are ensuring that all elderly residential facilities promote the health of residents in care; source, store and administer medicines in accordance with best practices and local laws and regulations; strive to continuously provide a high standard of care to residents; are staffed as necessary to provide quality services to residents; human resource issues are handled in accordance with established professional best practices and local laws and regulation; the physical infrastructure are designed and maintained to cater to the special needs of the elderly; have established procedures to prepare for and respond to emergencies, so as to protect the life, health, and liberty of their staff and residents, and standard accounting and financial systems are adopted to ensure the continued viability of the facility.
“These are, we believe, just the initial steps to commence the process of revolutionising the care for the elderly throughout Guyana,” the Ministry said in a recent statement.
The Ministry of Social Protection said that is fully aware that many of the existing facilities nationwide do not have the financial or technical resources required to effect the changes necessary to meet these standards in the short term.
“However even the Government-run Palms Geriatric Facility is unlikely to be able to meet these standards before 2018 due to resource constraints and the need for significant capacity-building and implementation of robust administrative practices,” the Ministry outlined.
“Therefore in the interim our national focus will be on raising awareness about the Maintenance Act and enforcing its provisions and identifying innovative mechanisms to help existing charitable and non-profit facilities improve their service to the elderly in their care.
“These mechanisms will include reviewing existing subvention allotments; introducing platforms for the sharing of experiences and maximising resource use; providing technical support to develop transition plans for each of the facilities; and developing objective criteria for future allocation of resources to elderly residential facilities.”
In the meantime, there will also be the introduction of licensing guidelines for facilities providing care for the elderly, as well as a multi-disciplinary inspection process that will be required to underpin the new licencing process.
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