Sunday, April 14, 2024

EDITORIAL: Make them pay for dumping their old folk


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THIS?PRACTICE of heartless relatives fobbing off their elderly on our health institutions won’t be going away any time soon.
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) is still burdened by abandoned old people in particular, who have no good cause to be there – because they have been made well and formally discharged, but their relatives just refuse to take them home.
Minister of Health Donville Inniss and QEH chief executive officer Dr Dexter James have over and over again spoken to the delinquency of relatives in collecting their own from the hospital and in too many cases leaving the older folk stranded outside their natural habitat – the home where many of them were born.
To the QEH’s credit, discharge lounges were in due course provided to accommodate discharged patients in dignified comfort until their family picked them up. We applauded Dr James and thanked Bishop John Holder for the Anglican Church’s kindness and contribution towards the reality  of these lounges.
But here we have another Government authority – Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett – having to accuse relatives of being “unfeeling leeches”, and his having to seek in the House Assembly on Tuesday nearly $1/4 million to acquire additional beds and equipment for the Geriatric Hospital.
And it was primarily because, as Mr Blackett put it, these senior citizens, who in their prime would have contributed significantly to the welfare and well-being of their young relatives, were now being placed on the dump heap of life by their young to be forgotten, as if they never existed.
Mr Blackett’s having to explain that the sum sought would be “a first step” in accommodating some of the abandoned elderly and disabled people living in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital suggests that the current ten lounges referred to are not enough to speak to the obviously increased elderly abandonment at the Accident & Emergency (A&E) Department and wards.
Surely this situation is untenable and must place great strain on the delivery of health care at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital when it creates a severe shortage of beds and space needed to treat emergency cases and even forces beds from ambulances to be used.
It cannot be sustainable that at the end of any one year the QEH can have 100 plus patients having to remain after being discharged in circumstances where A&E nursing staff are not trained in care of the elderly, who require special dieting and occupational therapy.
Clearly these stopgaps cannot continue unendingly. The families of those who abandon their elderly need to be brought to heel. If they will not care for those who once cared for them, they must be made to pay the state – directly – for doing it for them.


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