JIS News

The National Policy for Senior Citizens is to be revised, as the number of seniors is expected to double from 10 per cent of the population at the time the policy was crafted in 1997, to 20 per cent in the year 2020.
“The policy is due for revision, and without question there is an acknowledgement that it has to be reviewed,” Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Andrew Gallimore, has said.
In an interview with JIS News, the State Minister said the decision to review the policy is in keeping with the view that seniors have an active role to play in nation building, and as such should be provided with the framework to guide and inform their effort.
“We are trying to highlight our seniors. They are no longer the old people we knew in the past. Our seniors are younger in their ability than we perceived them to be; it is the time of active ageing. Our seniors are living longer and they are healthier and stronger and there is still a tremendous contribution that they have to make and all these programmes help to highlight that and hence the revision of the policy,” he asserted.
The National Policy for Senior Citizens was tabled in the House of Representatives on March 12, 1997, by the then Minister of Labour, Social Security and Sports, Portia Simpson Miller.
The policy envisages a developmental approach for senior citizens, and stresses the importance of considering seniors in strategies for national development. The document takes note of the recommendations of several international meetings since 1990, including the Beijing conference and the Social Summit in Denmark. It is also in keeping with the 1982 Vienna Plan of Action and the 1991 United Nations (UN) Global Targets and Principles.
A first in the region, the policy has attracted wide international attention. Chairman of the National Council, Beverley Hall Taylor, has been invited to several international fora to discuss the document and a number of countries have asked for Jamaica’s assistance in shaping their own policy for senior citizens.
The main goal of the policy is to meet the challenge of a growing, healthier and more active senior citizen population, by ensuring that those in need are assisted, and protected from abuse and violence.
It also states that the Government of Jamaica recognises that the progressive ageing of the society and the continuing increase in the senior citizen population, both in absolute and proportional terms, are inevitable.
According to the policy document, the situation of senior citizens will not be just one of providing protection, care and residential services, but also of the involvement and participation of the senior citizen in the national development process.
The policy, in particular, looked at providing senior citizens with protection and care, physically and mentally, through appropriate support services, while preserving their human dignity and providing the circumstances to live worthwhile lives; guaranteeing proper resource allocation for the social and economic welfare of senior citizens, while appropriately respecting their rights, responsibilities and roles; and encouraging formal and informal services for senior citizens, which recognise the family as the fundamental unit linking the generations, and enhancing the ability of the seniors to remain in the family.
The principles on which the policy is based include individuality, independence, choice, accessibility, role changes, productive ageing, family care, and dignity.