One of the primary concerns of the Dominica Labour Party Government has been to ensure that senior citizens and the underprivileged do not fall through the cracks.
One of the programmes devised to reach those needing help is the ‘Yes We Care Programme’. This programme which facilitates personal home care to the elderly and handicapped that are house bound was initiated by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit in 2009.
GIS News sought to find out how the programme has been doing for the past six years. We spoke to Coordinator of the programme, Mathilda Royer, who believes that, although there are challenges, the ‘Yes We Care Programme’ has so far been exceptional.
“We have persons who could not walk who are now ambulant. They can walk on their own because of training. We give-care givers ongoing training so the training that they got they put it into practice and the people [yes we care clients] can now walk. Also some of the homes were in terrible condition and because of the programme we were able to get housing, although we still need a lot to be done in that line…some people had no water, which is also still a challenge, but they were able to get water and electricity.”
She added that having was also very important to some of the clients.
“These people had no one to talk to and the care-givers would keep them company….”
At the inception of the programme 249 clients were signed on. Currently, the programme serves 151.
Royer detailed the factors affecting the numbers are “persons going to the infirmary, persons dying, relatives removing family from the program.”
She further explained that because of the programme, several relatives of those receiving care have taken the responsibility of caring for their own and this has led to several clients being removed from the programme by family members.
However she assured that the reduction in the number of clients has not had a negative impact on the numbers employed through the programme.
“When we started, each staff had about six to seven clients and if you really have to give full care to these people that number was too high for one person. What is happening now is that they give better care because they have less clients to deal with and give more time to the person,” she said.
The ‘Yes We Care Programme’ has a total staff of 58; that is four in administration, and 54 on the field.
Royer says she is very satisfied with the work of her well-trained staff. She says the staff has undergone training in areas such as the ageing process, health care, pedi and mani care and nutrition.
Meantime…the programme Coordinator says there is need to take care of even more clients under the programme. She made an appeal for members of the community and village councils across the island to assist the programme in that mission.
“Persons in the village councils and the health teams should be able to report to the programme if there are persons and the community in need of the program.”
She says although the programme has been on for six years, there are still people living in the communities in dire need.”
The Coordinator says she is convinced that the programme is very much needed and is optimistic that it will remain functional for years to come.
The ‘Yes We Care Programme’ is costing Government about $1m per year.