East End’s Sunrise Cottage seniors home shuts its doors

East End's Sunrise Cottage, which housed six elderly residents, closed at the end of May.

Elderly residents of East End’s Sunrise Centre have been moved to a residential home in West Bay after the facility closed down.

The six residents were relocated to the Golden Age Home in West Bay on Wednesday, 29 May.

East End MLA Arden McLean said he had been told that the building, which is not hurricane-proof, was deemed not fit for purpose after the Fire Services carried out an inspection of the site.

Teresa Echenique, chief officer in the Ministry of Community Affairs, said in a government press release, “The benefit of [the West Bay] location is that it is hurricane certified, which means [the residents] don’t have to be moved to a shelter if a storm is approaching.”

Both the East End and West Bay homes are operated by the Department of Children and Family Services.
Echenique said the decision to close the East End seniors building was made in the best interests of the residents and staff and will allow for future options to be considered, adding that the seniors were comfortably settled at their new location.

“They also have access to a large and airy day care room with the opportunity to interact and take part in group activities daily. The move included staff they are very familiar with, which has greatly helped the transition,” she added.

According to the press release, factoring in the age, size and overall structural restraints of Sunrise Cottage, the government is exploring creating a purpose-built facility for the elderly population of the eastern districts.

“As a result, options are being explored to accommodate a future home that will not only provide residential services for older persons but will offer a day programme and respite care when necessary,” the release stated.

McLean told the Compass last week that he was notified about the closure of Sunrise Cottage by a relative of one of the residents. He said he wrote to the premier on 26 May and spoke to Echenique, and their response to him was the place was not fit for purpose and that firemen had carried out an inspection and deemed the building unsafe.

McLean said he had been asking government to build a new facility for the elderly in his district and in neighbouring districts for a decade, stating that the building was not fit for public use.

“It was a house, a teacher’s cottage; it wasn’t built for taking care of old people, and I proposed constructing [a new] one inland years ago,” McLean said.

He said the residents had to be moved out of there whenever there was a hurricane threat.

“Whatever we do, we will have to make sure it accommodates all three districts, Bodden Town, North Side and East End,” McLean said.

He said it was not feasible to build am elderly care home in each district because the running costs would be astronomical.

East End people, he said, had been making representations to him about the care home and he is hopeful the government will do something about it.

The Sunrise Centre, which is the Children and Family Services oldest residential facility, is more than 60 years old. East End resident Dora Lee McLaughlin said it was first occupied by Caymanian teacher and school administrator Islay Conolly, who moved out when she married politician Warren Conolly. It remained shuttered for many years until government repaired and turned it into the seniors home.

McLaughlin, 67, said it will be hard for her to get to see her 100-year-old stepmother Ina Connor, now that she has been moved to the West Bay home.

“I was told by Family and Children Services that the building was not safe for them anymore and they would move out by the end of May,” she said.

She said she has visited her stepmother since she moved to West Bay and she seems very happy. She said she was also glad to know that nurses who looked after her stepmother in East End also had moved to the West Bay home. “That is one thing I am happy about,” she said.

She added, “I know they had to move them out every time a hurricane was coming and take them to the civic centre. The last time they took them there, they said they had too much problems shifting them around from the water coming in. I was told they would not be repairing the building,” she said.

Long-time East End resident Alan Ebanks said the elderly home will be missed. He said the seniors home had serviced the eastern districts, particular East End, for the past several decades and had provided quality care and was a  facility where their senior citizens can live out their final years in the community.

“It is obvious that this facility is needed. East End has an aged and aging population. It’s not only needed because of the care provided, but also the convenience to the families in the district. For the loved ones, it provides a level of comfort; they can live in the district of their birth as opposed to another district,” he said.

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