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The Government is moving to improve infirmaries across the island, in an effort to have a safer environment for the over 1,500 residents.
The residents include the aged, the disabled, the mentally challenged, the abandoned, and the homeless.
Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government Reform in the Office of the Prime Minister, Robert Montague, in his contribution to the 2008/09 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on June 24, said that the Government intends to move to smaller houses, so that rather than having one infirmary per parish, there would be an average of four per parish or one per constituency.
“This will mean smaller populations, more community involvement; and because it is now a house, the residents will contribute to their welfare as well as the upkeep of the home,” he said, adding that citizens would find it more manageable to contribute a four burner stove than an industrial one.
The State Minister informed that the Government will, in the long term, be looking at removing some houses, selling the land, and putting the funds into a Trust for the upkeep of the homes. He pointed out that, it has been proposed to place generators in all the homes as well as install solar panels and windmills to reduce energy cost. He further noted that the initial investment would be expensive, but over time it is recoverable.
Mr. Montague also pointed out that the training programme for the staff of the infirmaries and poor relief officers in the Council would be reviewed, while intensifying their in-service training.
The State Minister said that in addition to the plan of action for the infirmaries, it has been recognized that drop in centres in urban areas are desirable, and “we are starting in the tourist areas.”
“In moving ahead on this initiative, we are currently working with the Member of Parliament for North East St. Ann, the St. Ann Parish Council, and other stakeholders to identify lands and funding for a facility in that area,” he said.