Minister Persaud appeals to public to report elder neglect and abuse


As Guyana observes World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Minister of Human Services and Social Security Dr. Vindhya Persaud has made another appeal to the public to report instances of elder neglect and abuse through the recently launched 914 Hotline.

“Minister Persaud feels strongly that senior citizens merit the gratitude and respect of their children, grandchildren, caregivers, and the wider public,” a statement from her Ministry noted.

The Ministry pointed out that the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicated that around 1 in 6 people, 60 years and older, experienced some form of abuse in community settings during the past year.

The WHO said that rates of elder abuse have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister of Human Services and Social Security Dr. Vindhya Persaud interacts with elders at an event.

Minister Persaud emphasized that elderly abuse has serious negative impact on seniors including physical injuries, and harmful psycho-socio-economic effects.

The Minister has placed a focus on bringing more attention to the issue and has noted that while it is something that happens regularly, it often goes unreported.

According to her, there are many cases where elderly persons are without money, food and shelter.

She pointed out that some elderly persons bequeath their money and their homes to younger people while they are alive and subsequently are abandoned at the Georgetown Hospital or thrown on the streets to fend for themselves.

Dr. Persaud encouraged the elderly to make their wills and enjoy their properties and financial wellbeing throughout their life.

“Minister Persaud is also encouraging elderly residents to be more vocal about the abuses that they endure.

“The Human Services Ministry will exert every effort to have active engagements with other relevant agencies to have this issue addressed and expand its capacity to deal with it,” the Ministry stated.

At the launch of the 914 hotline, Minister Persaud, in encouraging persons to use it, had said: “Let us make 914 a hotline with a difference because it is answered and behind that answer, there is tangible help; help that can change someone’s life, help that can give them a future and help that can save a life.”

She added: “Once that person calls in and the necessary is done at the police station and hospital, they will be linked to a survivor’s advocate who will be able to walk with them, take their hand and hold it all the way to the conclusion of their case. That is the kind of support we want to see the people have.”

When a call is placed between the hours of 08:00hrs and 16:30hrs, it would be routed to a trained customer service operator, who, in turn, will connect the call to a Social Worker. Calls made after working hours and during weekends will be routed to the mobile handsets of Social Workers where all calls will be addressed with confidentiality. The Social Workers will provide necessary consultations and refer children and parents to local service providers and other relevant agencies.

As we observe Elderly Abuse Awareness Day, it is imperative that we collectively identify this disturbing social ill, report the cases and work to eliminate this callous form of abuse against elders so that they can enjoy an excellent quality of life in their twilight years.

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