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Of service and sacrifice: Organizations going the extra mile for the elderly

Posted: Tuesday, May 26, 2020. 5:19 pm CST.

By BBN Staff: Since mid-March, the majority of activities held at the Sister Cecilia Home for the Elderly (SCHE) and HelpAge Belize came to a complete stop. As older persons are the most vulnerable population to the COVID-19 pandemic, the facility shut its doors to visitors as a means of protecting those they serve.

This meant that religious and community groups, as well as volunteers and even students that used to visit the facility to spend time with the elderly, sing and do worship, and bring them gifts, could no longer do so. It also meant, unfortunately, that the older persons that visited the facility four times a week for exercise, recreation, socialization, and other assistance, got cut off from activities that were helping them cope with the difficulties of aging. But HelpAge and the SCHE have not given up on their clients and continue to find ways to reach out to them and engage them despite the pandemic.

HelpAge Executive Director, Ivorine Bulwer, told our newsroom today that in the absence of having the clients come to the activity center on Wilson Street, HelpAge has kept its “Meals on Wheels” program going, and the program now serves a dual purpose.

“We serve 124 meals for the week and it provides us with the opportunity to be in contact with them, to see how they are doing,” Bulwer said. “It gives that opportunity to let them know that they are special. Not just because there is COVID, they have been abandoned. We are able to see them and say to them ‘Yes you are at home, yes you are isolated, but never entertain the idea that we have abandoned you. We want you to know that you are special and we want to keep you safe.”

For caregivers working at the SCHE, the sacrifice for the people they serve is an around the clock commitment, as those who come to the facility to deliver service have made changes within their home lives, often affecting the lives of their families, to be able to offer the best possible care.

“We don’t socialize. Anybody working at the home does not socialize and we make sure our children do the same,” explained Hortence Augustine, supervisor at the SCHE. “Remember we are working with the most vulnerable so we have to protect them and protect ourselves. If we do not protect them we cannot come to work.”

She added that the facility has 35 clients living there with ages ranging from 69-106 years old. As a part of their procedures any caregivers that come to work must report to a designated area, sanitize themselves and change their clothes before they begin their work. They will have to repeat that process again before they leave. Augustine said that the procedures form a part of the organization’s COVID-19 response plan which, was developed by working with the Central Health Region of the Ministry of Health.

Breaking Belize News salutes the staff of both facilities and thanks them for their diligent care of Belize’s elderly.


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