Premier David Burt announced the establishment of a new Ageing Well Committee to produce a charter of rights for Bermuda’s seniors.

The committee, Chaired by Progressive Labour Party (PLP) MP and Deputy Speaker, Derrick Burgess, is comprised of members of both the public and private sectors,charged with producing a charter as “a reference document”.

Mindful of the current “budget challenges”, Premier Burt said: “We must develop long-term, sustainable solutions that will provide for those who have worked hard and served our community.

“To this end, we have created an Ageing Well Committee. The committee will operate under the guidance of the Cabinet Office to focus on seniors and ageing. They will review the ageing well strategy which has already been developed.

Minister of Government Reform Lovitta Foggo at SCC

“The committee will hold public consultation sessions and begin implementing the strategy. This committee will develop a Charter of Rights and Responsibilities for Seniors.”

Speaking at a news conference at the Cabinet Building yesterday, he said: “It is important to bring all those who have responsibilities for our seniors’ wellbeing together.

“The committee will be a government and private sector collaboration. The committee will also serve as a watch dog for residential care homes and nursing homes. They will also address the issue of senior abuse.”

Mr Burgess, the Chairman, who is also a senior, said the charter will focus on the country’s elders who depend on others for personal care.

He noted that Bermuda’s elderly represent the fastest growing population segment. According to the latest census figures, there were 8,716 residents aged 65 and older in 2010. That figure was set to rise by 38 percent to 12.062 by 2020. In a survey conducted in 2011, 29 percent of the seniors polled also reported having a disability.

While noting that the former Government started an ageing well strategy, which will be reviewed, the new strategy could be released to the public for consultation and feedback as early as next month.

“Living with dignity should not depend on how much money a senior has at his or her disposal,” he said.

Reaffirming the PLPs platform commitment “to ensure” that Bermuda’s “senior population enjoys a quality of life that reflects the value we place on them as citizens”. “The PLP will continue to ensure that our seniors are able to live in dignity.

“As a country, we have a moral and social responsibility to care for our seniors and ensure that they have access to affordable healthcare, a decent place to live and services that support them as they age.

“Seniors are an important segment of our community. It is not enough to say it, but we must demonstrate it, by implementing and crafting policies and legislation that will provide care for those Bermudians who are currently 65 years and older and prepare for those who turn 65 in the coming days, months and years ahead.

“This is a significant undertaking,” Premier Burt said.

He noted that he asked Mr Burgess to chair the committee, because of his “wealth of experience as a union leader” and as a Government Minister, who has served in several ministries.

“The critical element he brings to the position is he is passionate about the issues facing seniors and has the drive and focus to help make a difference,” said Mr Burt.

“He publicly advocates for seniors and the issues facing them. He will serve as this government’s voice and conscience on issues impacting our seniors. In addition to these qualities, he is also a senior.”

Members of the Ageing Well Committee include:

  • Ageing and Disability Services
  • Health Insurance Department Pensions
  • Department of Financial Assistance
  • Ministry of Transport
  • National Security
  • Ministry of Health – Long Term Care consultant
  • Policy and Strategy Section
  • Seniors’ organizations
  • Community based service providers & a Gerontologist

In closing, Premier Burt thanked the committee members who “stepped forward”. “They are making a significant contribution, sharing their time and expertise,” he said.

“As a country, we are extremely grateful.”