The Night Shelter, a 24-hour refuge for homeless persons, will be upgraded – a commitment made by Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Vindhya Persaud following a site-assessment on Tuesday.
During her visit, Minister Persaud, evaluated the kitchen area, sleeping quarters, sanitary block, and the recreational hall, and noted that there is a need for major improvement.
“The facility needs to be upgraded along with more staff being brought onboard. The residents, as well as, the [current] staff, have expressed a number of concerns, such as, having access to medication and medical care in the facility because we are now operating under a new normal, which is the COVID Pandemic,” she stated.
In the immediate future, Minister Persaud has committed to ensuring the facility has more amenities such as beds, mattresses, pillows, sheets, and healthy meals.
“Coming from a medical background, I know the elderly have different health issues. As such, their needs will be different, depending on if they are hypertensive, diabetic or they have any other chronic disease conditions,” the Minister noted.
There are also plans to upgrade and add new washroom facilities that will also cater to persons who are living with disabilities, since, currently, there are none.
“The whole environment should give them a feeling of appreciation, that there is care and concern. I will ensure that there are enough facilities available for differently-abled people … So, I am looking at the entire place with a very practical and holistic approach and making the necessary changes sooner rather than later.”
Also, on her list of upgrades to the facility are more programmes and activities such as, board games, reading material, and television sets, to provide more recreational options for the residents. A suggestion box will also be installed so they can offer their ideas to make the atmosphere of the shelter more uplifting.
Minister Persaud relayed that during her interaction with some of the residents, the matter of having access to Public Assistance was raised. However, she explained that:
“The legislation, as it stands now, does not allow for those who are in Government institutions to benefit from that. But looking at the matter outside of that and in terms of the population, the idea is to increase all of these benefits across the board.”
The Human Services Minister indicated that there are measures that can be implemented right away such as:
“Ensuring that VAT is removed off utilities, along with other avenues, that cover the elderly population, especially if they have comorbidities. They will have other areas catered to such as, the provision of supplements, walking aids or given special concessions,” the Minister explained.
Minister Persaud also visited the Family Enhancement Services Department which falls under the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security. [Extracted and Modified from the Department of Public Information]