Minister of Community Affairs Osbourne Bodden is calling for a national plan to outline care for elderly Caymanians.
Speaking in the Legislative Assembly on Friday, Mr. Bodden said a review of Cayman’s services for the elderly needs to be undertaken, best practices put in place, and minimum standards for housing and care set.
“These are our parents,” Mr. Bodden said. “We don’t realize the asset we have in our elderly,” he said, calling older Caymanians “some of the most dedicated, hardworking, industrious people. They are now a dying breed.”
Cayman’s elderly, he said, “are the people who built this country.”
The objective of the policy, the ministry stated in its annual plan for the upcoming fiscal year, will be “to ensure the rights of the elderly are protected and their needs are addressed in our community.”
Mr. Bodden called for a “comprehensive review of homes operated by government.” In addition to setting standards, he said government needs to grow its services for the elderly to serve more people as the population ages.
According to government population data, the number of people over age 65 has grown in both number and percentage share of the population as the baby boomer generation hits retirement age and beyond. The 65 and up age group has increased from 5.6 percent in 2010 to 6.5 percent last year.
This year, government expects to spend about $3.9 million to care for indigent elderly and adults with disabilities across its four residential and day-care facilities, and for clients in their own homes on Cayman Brac. The proposal for the next fiscal year, beginning in July, increases that budget to a little more than $4.1 million.
Government spent $1.4 million over the past year for the nonprofit Pines Retirement Home, according to government budget documents. Mr. Bodden’s ministry is requesting the same amount this year for the nonprofit.
Both the government-owned residential facilities and the Pines Retirement Home provide elderly and disabled people around-the-clock care, activities and physical therapy, along with treatment by doctors from the Health Services Authority.