The programmes and initiatives for the senior citizen have been governed by the landmark National Policy for Senior Citizens (1997), which is administered through the National Council for Senior Citizens (NCSC) under the governance of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS).
The policy is in its 20th year and, over the decades there have been significant shifts in the social and economic landscape that have impacted the lives of senior citizens. Not only is the cohort 60 years and older the fastest growing demographic segment, but life expectancy for men and women has increased, with concurrent longer years in retirement and improved overall health status.
The policy environment must therefore shift to address the changing dynamics within the society, meet new expectations, ensure responsiveness to emerging issues, and strengthen the alignment with development objectives.
As Jamaica advances efforts at sustained economic growth and social progress, Government seeks to strengthen the policy and legislative environments, and modernise approaches to social inclusion.
The global and regional dialogue and commitments have also signaled new directions reinforcing a rights-based approach, recognising that the elderly have specific needs that can be overlooked when the population is subsumed in “general planning”. It is widely acknowledged in the literature that the cohort of senior citizens is a reservoir of productive capacity.
Therefore, the revised policy will incorporate the productive model. This position is in keeping with the commitment expressed in Vision 2030 Jamaica – National Development Plan, that each person should be enabled to achieve their fullest potential. In this vein, active ageing is also underscored as being integral to the quality of life of senior citizens, and strengthens the paradigm shift in addressing the policy environment.
The policy revision process entailed the development of a Conceptual Framework document, with literature reviews and desk research. A Situational Analysis was conducted with primary and
secondary research data and information, and a Concept Note was derived. Cabinet provided approval for the process to continue, by Cabinet Decision 8/17, allowing for the drafting of a National
Policy for Senior Citizens.
Key consultations were held with a multi-sectoral Technical Review Panel, the Planning Institute of Jamaica, National Council for Senior Citizens, and academia.
Upon approval for public consultations, a broader public engagement is to involve senior citizens organisations, civil society, and government and non-government entities. A finalised draft policy document and broad programme of action will then be re-submitted for approval.