The planned development of private residential homes for the elderly has been temporarily stalled, the Ministry of Health and Family said today.
Director of the Department of Gender and Family Hafeesa Ali confirmed that work on establishing private care homes for the elderly had currently been halted with the change of the government in February.
“There were plans last year to develop residential care homes due to the increasing number of requests to transfer old people to Guraidhoo center. But as you know, several projects from last year have come to a halt now [after the change of government on February 7]. The discussions are ongoing, but I can say it is not progressing as fast as we had hoped,” Ali told Minivan News.
The cabinet of former President Mohamed Nasheed decided in July 2011 to establish private residential homes under its Public Private Partnerships (PPP) scheme. The pledge for residential homes was made owing to concerns over the increasing number of elderly people being transferred to the state-run Guraidhoo Special Care Centre, which was found by the government to have insufficient space and facilities to accept new charges.
The PPP scheme was shut down last month by the present government, reportedly over concerns sbout the legal processes behind certain privatisation projects.
Beyond the issue of setting up residential homes, Hafeesa Ali noted that the gender and family department’s wider work to provide shelter and care to the elderly Maldivians had been further obstructed by a limited budget and resources.
“Several elderly people are wait listed to be accepted into the Guraidhoo centre even now. Some of them don’t have any relative or caregiver. But there is no space at the centre and we do not have the capacity to provide alternative housing,” she observed.
According to Health Ministry figures released on April 7 to mark the occasion of World Health Day, 49 people aged between 75 and 80 were found to be living at the Guradhoo center. Among the 49 residents at Guradhoo, eighteen are women and 31 men. Thirteen of them are bedridden, while another thirteen remain in wheelchairs, the statement read.
Most of residents do not have any legal guardian or have been neglected by relatives with no where to live, the ministry added.
According to the statement, only a few family members were reported to have visited elderly relatives at the centre or made attempts to check up on them by phone.
Hafeesa Ali says that the most challenging factor for the department is providing care to the old people under the same roof as people with disabilities or mental illnesses. Over a 100 people with special needs are receiving treatment at the Guraidhoo facility.
According to recently released ministry figures, Rf12,000 is spent on every resident per month.