Ministry Investigates Elder Abuse Allegations in Belize City

Ministry Investigates Elder Abuse Allegations in Belize City

The Ministry of Human Development says that it is investigating allegations into the abuse of an elderly woman. Yesterday we reported that a man had taken to social media pleading for assistance, as he heard the woman being abused every day this week by her daughter. Starla Bradley, Director of the Women and Families Support Department, Ministry of Human Development says that the department also received the video and immediately dispatched social workers and the police. Bradley says that the situation highlights the need for greater legislative protections for the elderly, which the ministry is currently working on.

Starla Bradley, Director of Women and Families Support Department, MHD: “With regard to the process for reporting situations of elder abuse, currently there’s the law we are currently trying to strengthen the legal framework for older persons because presently there is no actual law that protects against elder abuse. Abuse of an older person would come broadly under the criminal code as a regular assault of a person. But in any case, we receive reports from concerned persons, persons who might know that, know of someone who works in the ministry and then they forward information. Generally persons in the public can contact any Ministry of Human Development office across the country. We have offices in each district. In Belize City, they can contact our department, the Women and Family Support Department and we’re located at 26 Albert Street and our phone number is 227-3888. I have to say that we are glad for every report that we receive because had it not been for that young man, that gentleman who made that video, we would not have been aware of that situation. So it really takes concerned citizens to bring these matters forward.”

Bradley says that in situations where the department has to intervene on behalf of an elderly person, the department seeks the support of family members and in extreme cases, the state will have to house and care for the elderly person.

Starla Bradley, Director of Women and Families Support Department, MHD: “In cases such as this one, the general process would be as soon as we’re notified about any situation, it doesn’t necessarily have to be abuse. It could be that an older person is alone, isolated, ill, in need of medical attention. We send out our social workers go out and do an assessment. And the first step is always to get that person to the doctor to seek medical attention, to do a wellness check. We’ve had situations in which most cases when we have to respond in those cases the older person is hospitalized for a period of time. During that time we also try to find out more about that person and their family situation. Who do they live with? Do they have children, siblings, anybody who can care for them and we generally try to reach out to the family to find out what’s going on to see how they can support if they need support and where we can support as well. So each case is unique, each case is different. There are instances where there aren’t, persons do not have family support and in those cases we would have to take them into state care. That in and of itself is a challenge because we have limited placements for older persons.”

Bradley says that the only government-operated facility for the care of older persons is the Golden Haven Rest Home in Hattieville. The department also works closely with Help Age Belize which operates private facilities for older persons

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