Gomez Says Strategy of Care for the Elderly and Support for the Caregiver Reduces Hospitalizations

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Sandilands Geriatric Hospital. (BIS Photo/Gena Gibbs)
Sandilands Geriatric Hospital. (BIS Photo/Gena Gibbs)

Minister of Health Dr. Perry Gomez
Minister of Health Dr. Perry Gomez

NASSAU, The Bahamas – Health Minister the Hon. Dr. Perry Gomez encouraged caretakers of the elderly and their family members by stating it is absolutely imperative that we as a country salute their work and provide for them all that is necessary to care for the elderly of our society as he addressed hundreds of elderly patients and their nurses at the Sandilands Geriatric Hospital community at the 50th Anniversary Celebration held at the facility on Fox Hill Road, June 1.

Dr. Gomez pointed out during his discussion on looking after our senior citizens that while the Geriatric Hospital has limited bed capacity, many older persons in the wider community receive attention from skilled geriatric professionals through a unique and proficient service that provides care for the elderly and support for the caregiver, reducing the need for hospitalizations.

Minister Gomez revealed, “according to the World Health Organization (WHO) 2013 Country Co-operation Strategy at a Glance, about nine percent of the population of The Bahamas is 60 years of age or older. However, this portion of the population is expected to increase to 18 percent by 2030. The population, and the portion of the population 65 years and older, is expected to double from six percent to 12 percent in the same time frame.

“I’m extremely proud however to stand before you this morning, as the Minister of Health of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and say that our country has and continues to prepare for the eventuality of our aging Boomers. Ladies and Gentlemen, we are now faced with the reverse of the Baby Boom. It is interesting that in 1956, in the middle of the Baby Boom Era, the Geriatric Hospital was officially opened as a 139 bed facility; over 50 years later, in 2015, today, we are faced with a period, marked by a great increase in aging.”

Minister Gomez said that conventional wisdom states that booming periods signify good times, accompanied by periods of general economic growth and stability. This is indeed indicative of the Bahamian economy at this time.

He stated that upcoming renovations to the facilities will provide a more therapeutic and modern environment for the residents.

Dr. Gomez continued: “moreover, I’m delighted to report that the renovations will not only include improvements to the interior clinical setting, but every effort is being made to guarantee that comprehensive care is provided through the transformation of the exterior areas that will encourage physical and social improvements. Ladies and Gentlemen, my Ministry is delighted to proclaim to the world that our country, through the specialized training of staff in various disciplines, is equipped to competently address the significant and specialized needs of our precious older clients, that they receive specialized medical attention at all our institutions.”

Minister Gomez said the management team at Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre has developed a cadre of proficient and skilled geriatric professionals, who have implemented the strategic plan for a new approach to caring for the older person.

“The team, in their altruistic wisdom, recognized that if depended on the Geriatric Hospital’s limited bed capacity alone, many older people would be ignored. They have, however, made provisions to ensure that the same level of proficiency and professionalism is provided for older persons in the community,” said Minister Gomez.

“This unique service provides care for the elderly as well as support for the caregiver. This approach reduces the need for hospitalizations. So as I greet you all today, I applaud the men and women who now contribute to this successful aging that most of us over 50 years will soon experience, and continue to execute care aimed at maximizing health, well being, and functional capacity, and social participation in old age.”

Minister Gomez said he admonished all of them to personally adopt those essential healthy lifestyle changes that will allow them to enjoy a good quality of life as they age.