Meeting addresses issues of senior citizens

| 31/05/2018 | 0 Comments
CNS Local Life

Alice Mae Coe

(CNS Local Life): Rain did little to dampen the spirits of attendees at the Council for Older Persons district gathering in George Town recently. The penultimate in a series of six district consultations, the evening meeting featured presentations from the council on its mandate, and sought public input on how the body can best serve senior citizens in the Cayman Islands.

Lucille Seymour, the council’s chairperson and district representative, outlined the aims and purpose of the Older Persons Law, 2017; the Cayman Islands Older Persons Policy, 2016-2035; and the Council for Older Persons. She then invited attendees to voice their opinions, so the council could advocate for them, stated a press release.

Government officials attending voiced their support of the council’s efforts.

Speaking on behalf of Premier and Minister for Community Affairs Alden McLaughlin, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Roy McTaggart said that the council, convened in November 2017, is working diligently to “champion and monitor the promotion and development of programmes, projects and legislative measures while ensuring that the Cayman Islands Older Policy is adhered to.”

He added, “I work with all ministries to ensure that we meet the commitments we make to the people, including our elders. Some of these include healthcare, continuing education, poor relief, pensions and general safety.”

Minister of Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure Joey Hew shared his interest in championing the welfare of elders and pledged to ensure the support of his ministry. “We must take every opportunity we can to include our older persons in all aspects of civic life,” he said. “Without your past and continuing contributions, we will lose our connection to our heritage, our culture and our sense of who we are.”

CNS Local Life

Marie Martin speaks at the meeting

Council deputy chairperson Alice Mae Coe said that the law, the council and the policy go hand-in-hand towards enabling a mechanism to promote older persons’ access to vital services. All three sought to advance the affordability of services; physical accessibility and adequate maintenance; as well as championing the full inclusion of seniors in the cultural and economic life of the Cayman Islands, she said.

Ministry of Community Affairs Policy Officer (Gender Affairs) and council member Karlene Bramwell outlined the policy’s five major goals and the actions necessary to achieve them, emphasising that several ministries are responsible and private-sector involvement is required.

She added many of the actions focus on the full inclusion of the elderly such as recognising their healthcare needs; their role as residents; their value within families and their potential contributions in strengthening inter-generational relationships.

The policy officer acknowledged that some services needed by the elderly are partially provided by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), through their residential facilities and community development officers. She added that some churches, charities and non-governmental agencies are also helping with such provision.

In addition, participants were asked to complete older persons’ registration forms. Seymour explained that while the skills and information forms are mandated by the law, seniors are requested but not obliged to complete and return them to the council. She noted that among the benefits of the information collected was that the data can assist with hurricane-preparedness objectives and help set up a skills inventory for those wanting work.

After the presentations, audience members addressed the panel, speaking on such topics as the perceived need for dedicated facilities for senior citizens to meet and socialise; and the need to support adults who act as carers for their parents or grandparents.

Former George Town Primary principal, Marie Martin, suggested setting up intergenerational programmes, saying these would lead to increased opportunities for contact between senior citizens and younger people.

Other proposals included further subsidising healthcare for the elderly, establishing a seniors’ discount card, and increasing opportunities for seniors to pass on local history to students.

One attendee suggested providing transportation from hospitals and another asked that churches be encouraged to offer halls as meeting places and their minivans for transportation. Former DCFS Director Deanna Look Loy asked for the council to review other senior citizens programmes which had been popular.

Seymour promised to take the feedback from all the gatherings to full council meetings for members to review and decide on any action to take.

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