Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 19, 2016 (SKNIS): The importance of older persons in the Federation was again demonstrated by Senator and Minister of State responsible for Community Development and Social Services, Honourable Wendy Phipps, who took time out of her busy schedule to meet with senior citizens attending the annual exchange visit and tour by seniors in Nevis to those in St. Kitts.

She noted that this would be one of several exchange visits that would take place during the month of October which is commemorated internationally and locally, as the Month of Older Persons. A previous exchange visit took place earlier this month on October 08, when seniors from St. Kitts journeyed to Nevis to take part in the Seniors’ March.

Minister Phipps welcomed the Nevis seniors at their tour-stop, at the Grange Nursing Home and Health Care Facility, which is a private institution managed by Dr. Patricia Richards-Leader.

“We have a packed programme, where we have several exchange visits where we go over to join you with certain activities and you come over here, but I am so grateful that you have come out in your numbers,” she said. “I see everybody in his/her bright gold shirt so you can’t hide, it’s a strong delegation from Nevis, my mother’s homeland, so I am so grateful to welcome you here. At the same time, we also must express our gratitude to the management and staff of the Grange Healthcare Facility.”

Minister of State Phipps outlined that most of the facilities that offer residential care to older ones are privately owned. These include the Grange Nursing Home and Health Care Facility, De Royalty Elderly Nursing Home Care, Safe Haven Elderly Care Facility in St. Kitts and St. George’s and St. John’s Senior Citizen’s Homes in Nevis. Government-owned facilities are the Cardin Home in St. Kitts and the Flamboyant Nursing Home in Nevis. Care provided by the Department of Social Services and Community Development’s Home Care Officers on both islands, along with care provided by private individuals also account for the increased longevity of citizens in the Federation.

Minister Phipps noted that the number of centenarians in the Federation is in the teens.

“It tells us that we have done much as a country in terms of providing senior care to our older citizens,” she said. “Our research is also showing us that we have a growing number of older persons. Apart from the fact that we also have an increased number of persons living to see age 100.”