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Social protection a responsibility of gov't - Ferguson

Published:Monday | January 4, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Minister of Labour and Social Security, Dr. Fenton Ferguson

Social protection is the responsibility of the Jamaican Government, and its work in this area, in partnership with other stakeholders, is important to the developmental outcomes of the people and country, declared Minister of Labour and Social Security Dr Fenton Ferguson.

Speaking during a tour of the Vineyard Town Golden Age Home in Kingston last week, he pledged the ministry's continued support of the staff and residents.

"I am always very concerned about our children, about our seniors and our disabled community. Therefore, social protection must remain special priority," Dr Ferguson said.

Even as he commended the staff for their dedicated effort in caring for the elderly and destitute who reside at the facility, the minister said he will be meeting with the board of directors of the home to determine areas for improvement, "as only the best is good enough."

"As a Government, we recognise that what we do for you is a reflection of the thinking of our Government. How we deal with our vulnerable; how we deal with poverty; how we deal with inequality; how we deal with income distribution," he said.

The minister visited several clusters at the facility, greeting the residents and familiarising himself with the home.

Meanwhile, general manager for the home, Laurette Adams-Thomas, said that the institution has seen a number of improvements in recent years, particularly, the renovation of 14 bathrooms, which have been retrofitted to suit the needs of the elderly and disabled. Two additional bathrooms are currently under construction.

Each bathroom was renovated at a cost of $1.2 million between 2012 and 2015. Other improvements to the facility include the acquisition of a generator and the installation of a fire alarm system.

Adams-Thomas said a skills centre has also been established at the facility. "Residents come in and do various artworks. In addition to that, (they) make sheets and bed linen to use on the clusters to enhance their level of comfort; and, of course, it works as a motivational tool for them," she explained.

She said they are also in the process of improving medical services at the home by renovating a section of a cluster to facilitate physiotherapy service.


Improved medical care


Adams-Thomas said that improvements have been made to the quality of medical care offered in-house, particularly in wound care and medication administration, through an increase in the complement of registered and practical nurses.

She added that in collaboration with the University of the West Indies School of Dentistry, the Vineyard Town Golden Age Home will now have a team of persons coming in at least twice per week to provide dental care for the residents on a continuous basis.

She said they intend to expand that programme over time to have all the necessary equipment to provide detailed analysis of the type of dental care needed for the residents, which number 474.

For her part, Dionne Jennings, chief technical director of Social Services in the Ministry of Labour and Social Services and director of the Golden Age Home's board, acknowledged the significant improvements made over the past years and hailed the general manager for leading the charge.

"It's really a team approach, and we welcome the improvements that we have seen, especially the retrofitting of the bathrooms. We welcome the changes, and the ministry stands ready to support the activities at the Home," she said.