’s Island :

Bermuda 's Elderly to ‘Fight for their Rights’  

By Ayo Johnson, the Royal Gazette

March 15, 2004  

Louise Jackson  

Opposition spokesperson for seniors Louise Jackson yesterday urged Government to get on with providing essential healthcare services and facilities for the Island ’s senior population, and called for an elderly complaints authority.  

And the septuagenarian’s contribution to the debate on the Health Ministry’s budget allocations contained a warning that the Country’s elderly were pro-active and prepared to fight for their rights.  

“We are not going to lie down and die,” Mrs. Jackson said during yesterday’s House of Assembly sitting.

“We are going to stand up, and we want to be heard. We want to be consulted, we want to be there ... when you have all these meetings how many seniors are involved in them?

“We are not going to lie down and die.”  

Mrs. Jackson decried the fact that there was only one geriatrician at the hospital, the lack of a rehabilitation unit and she alleged that district nurses were not given essential supplies to take with them on their rounds as they meted out residential care.  

The hospital’s geriatrician often had to treat people with Alzheimer’s even though that was not his speciality, she said.

She said that senior citizens had spent a lifetime paying taxes only to be treated shabbily at the end of their days.

“All I’m saying is it’s my turn now.

“And it’s the turn of all the other seniors who want to have decent healthcare.”

She claimed that seniors had to take their own medication to the hospital when admitted and that many would not be fed if their family members did not take them food.  

“I’ve never seen anything like it in my life,” the Pembroke South West MP said.

She also informed the House of a practice called “granny dumping” which she said often occurred at the weekends.  

“People take an elderly relative to the hospital and they coach the person to say they have chest pains or shortness of breath and they are seen immediately ... They are left there and they might have to stay there all night. Then they may have to wait for someone to die before they get a bed.”  

She said: “We really need an elder care complaints board – somebody to advise and adjudicate any problems of the aged (like discrimination or physical abuse).”

She went on to question why HIP covers medication needed during hospital stays, but not during recuperation at home.

And she described as “frightening” the rate at which elderly patients were receiving “staph infections”.  

“Tell me something about the staph infections,” she said. “It’s frightening to go to the hospital and see how many patients you have to go visit and put on a mask and gloves because they have this infection ... I’m saying they went into the hospital without it and got the infection coming out.”  

But Mrs. Jackson was careful to praise healthcare professionals and administrators at the Hospital, and faulted Government for not providing adequate resources.

“We don’t have a people problem. We don’t have a doctor or nurses problem. The people there are fine – I cannot repeat this enough but they lack something to work with,” she said.

“The money needs to be put in the proper place.”

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