Home for Older Persons opened by Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis in Fox Hill

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Minister Griffin challenges staff to make Demetrius Home ‘a happy home’

ANSWERING THE CALL – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works and Urban Development, Philip “Brave” Davis and Minister of Social Services and Community Development, Melanie S. Griffin, gather for a photograph with the Brothers of King David’s Lodge No. 2, Most Worshipful Prince of Peace Grand Lodge. The Lodge answered Minister Griffin’s call for social partners and civic organisations to assist in ensuring that the country’s elderly are properly cared for by ‘adopting’ the facility as part of its outreach programme. Senator Alex Storr is at far right.

Melanie Griffin Working HARD to make life better for older persons challenged by tough times…

NASSAU, The Bahamas — The Administrator, staff and caregivers at the Demetrius Home and Care Centre for the elderly were Thursday challenged to continue to make the co-ed senior citizens facility “ a happy home with caring, family members.”

Located on the corner of Fox Hill and Hard Hill Roads, the centre – which was first occupied in May, 2007, and became a co-ed facility four years later, was officially opened Thursday, October 17, 2013 by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works and Urban Development, Philip “Brave” Davis, who was assisted by Minister of Social Services Melanie Griffin.

The facility is expected to provide “holistic, assisted-living to elderly male and female residents.” The Centre, is managed by the Department of Social Services and falls under the Senior Citizens Division.

“I expect you to provide the highest level of care to all residents,” Mrs. Griffin said. “I implore you to be patient with the residents and above all, to treat them with the respect and dignity at all times and under all circumstances that they deserve.”

Minister Griffin said the facility, which bears the Demetrius family name to whom the property belonged, will continue to be managed in accordance with “accepted principles for older persons.”

It was the wish of Mrs. Margaret Demetrius that the main house and other buildings on the property be utilised as a facility for the elderly prior to her death, “It is my intent that this facility will live up to its guiding philosophy of providing holistic assisted-living, while maintaining a home-like environment for the elderly,” Mrs. Griffin said.

“My ministry will continue to do its part when and where necessary, to ensure that our older persons are cared for and I call on families, individuals, social partners and civic organisations to do the same because even when it becomes necessary for facilities of this nature to be established, our intervention should serve to support, rather than replace the warmth and attentive care of family members or the community.”

Mrs. Griffin said it was during her first tenure as Minister of Social Services and Community Development that Mrs. Demetrius approached ministry officials regarding the possibility of utilising a self-contained building on the property as a home for older persons.

“I can distinctly recall visiting the site with officers from the ministry and being shown around by Mrs. Demetrius whom I had known for many years as a teenager going to her store (Modernistic Dry Goods) on Wulff Road. Little did I know that one day she would call me about the place she had built for a home for older persons, which she wanted Social Services to lease and manage.

“We arranged to meet at the site to see if we could use the place. It was purpose built as the kitchen had commercial utilities and the rooms were all furnished, except for one room which was to be for her own use as she wanted to be able to come over and spend time with the seniors and teach them how to sew.”

Minister Griffin said after some negotiations and “consultations with the Department of Social Services”, approval was given for the building to be utilised as a centre for older males. The first group, along with their caregivers, took up occupancy in May, 2007.

“Mrs. Demetrius continued to make it known her desire for the main house, her home, to become a residential care facility for older persons as well (and) stipulated this in her Will, with the further stipulation that the facility should be called the Demetrius Home and Care Centre,” Mrs. Griffin said.

“Following her demise, the home was made available to the Ministry for use as Mrs. Demetrius stipulated. The main house was occupied on March 9, 2011 and the facility became co-ed with men on one side and women on the other,” Mrs. Griffin added.

Mrs. Griffin applauded the work of Mrs. Janice Evans, administrator, the staff of the Demetrius Home and Care Centre and the staff at the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development and the Department of Social Services for their untiring efforts in “working so diligently in caring for this special group of persons.”

“I also wish to thank the chairperson and members of the National Council on Older Persons for their partnership and commitment to service as we continue to recognise the value of our elderly and keep them engaged in the family and society,” Mrs. Griffin added.

The official opening ceremony, originally scheduled for October, 2012, but postponed due to Hurricane Sandy, was held as part of celebrations commemorating National Older Persons Month.

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Full text by Deputy Prime Minister Davis at opening…

Remarks by The Hon. Phillip Davis, M.P.
Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Works and Urban Development at the Official Opening of Demetrius Home & Care Centre.

Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.

Hon. Melanie Griffin, Minister of Social Services & Community      Development,

Other Cabinet Ministers,

Other Parliamentarians,

Chairman and Members of the National Council on Older Persons,

Senior Officers of the Ministry of Social Services and Community      Development and its various Departments,

Members of the clergy,

Administrator, Staff and Residents of the Demetrius Home & Care Centre,

Ladies and gentlemen;

Good morning.

I consider it both an honour and a privilege to have been invited to participate in the official opening of the Demetrius Home & Care Centre  and I thank Minister Griffin for asking me to do so. I am also very pleased to be in Fox Hill, a distinguished, older community of New Providence.

I congratulate Minister Griffin for the activities to date in observance of Older Persons Month and I fully support the efforts of her Ministry in ensuring that the needs of this segment of our population are not only known but adequately addressed. Indeed, these efforts have resulted in us being here this morning to officially open this Centre, which provides residential care for older persons.
Ladies and gentlemen, in a statement issued for the International Day for Older Persons, which was observed on October 1, the United Nations Secretary General indicated that by 2020, the number of older persons will be twice the number of children in developed countries and in developing countries, the number of older persons is expected to double. It is imperative therefore that our country comprehends the implications of this eventuality and prepares for it.

Years ago, it was the norm in The Bahamas for older persons to be accommodated in the homes of relatives and this was especially the case when they were unable to continue living on their own. Regretfully, in New Providence in particular, this has now become the exception rather than the rule and numerous theories have been advanced for the decline in the extended family structure, which has resulted in more older persons either living on their own or in need of residential care.

We are also aware of the advances in health care and the improved standards of living, that have resulted in persons living longer, which we welcome and applaud but, when this is coupled with the decline in the extended family and care of older members, the need increases for special housing and a network of community based assisted living facilities like the Demetrius Home and Care Centre to accommodate older persons who can no longer live on their own and whose families are unable or unwilling to care for them.

Ladies and gentlemen, as both the government and the private sector seek to  meet the need for residential care facilities for our older persons, we must ensure that these provide the level of care that our older persons deserve while protecting their rights and dignity. They should not be places where older persons are only provided with a bed and basic meals but they should be places with there is stimulation and interaction both within and outside the facility. There is often the myth that once persons attain a certain age they are incapable of remaining active and should be withdrawn from society. This is a myth we do not want to perpetuate.

This centre is located in what I referred to earlier as a distinguished older community of New Providence, and I trust that Fox Hill has embraced this Centre as there is much that each can offer to the other.  There are several churches in the immediate area of this Centre hence there should be no issue with the spiritual needs of residents being met. Likewise, there are several schools in the immediate area hence this provides the opportunity for intergenerational activities for the benefit of both students and residents. No doubt, this type of interaction between the Centre and the community was envisioned by the late Mrs. Margaret Demetrius when she mandated in her will that her former residence should become a facility for older persons, in addition to the self contained unit to the side that she constructed specifically as a centre for older persons.

Ladies and gentlemen, aesthetically, this is indeed a fine facility and I am sure that the Administrator and staff will ensure that it remains so but more importantly, I challenge the Administrator and staff to provide  the best level of care possible to the persons who are housed here and treat them as you would want to be treated should you be blessed to reach their age.

Ladies and Gentlemen I wish to use this opportunity to raise the consciousness in our nation to the fact that many of the successes that we enjoy both at the individual and national level were made possible through the hard work and sacrifices of the senior citizens of this country.  It is important therefore, that we do not cast them aside as they age, but rather demonstrate our appreciation for their efforts by maintaining them as a vital part of our family and community.

Further, we must actively engage in dialogue with our older persons about the future they would like to have and not presume to believe that we know what is best for them or expect them to accept whatever we choose to make available to them. I am sure that in listening closely to this segment of our population, we will not only learn many things about our past but also set a compassionate course for our future. What we do now will determine how we are treated later.

As I look out at the many faces of the assembled dignitaries and guests, I am forced to wonder how many of us may later in our lives need to live at a facility such as this.

As we open this home let us once again be reminded by the words of the Great Lynden Pindling who in October 1981 – 32 years ago this month – said: “Assist the poor, ….. comfort the sick,……. guide the youth and bring peace to every heart’ ……..and that record cannot be overlooked by any reasonable person in any generation.”

I extend congratulations and best wishes to the Minister and the staff of her Ministry who have responsibility for this facility and it is now my pleasure to declare the Demetrius Home and Care Centre officially open.

Thank you.

And May God Bless you all.