Minister of Social Development and Family Services Donna Cox speaks to Waseem Ali, at a home for the aged in Diego Martin yesterday.

Social Development Minister Donna Cox is urging citizens to ensure that if they are putting their elderly relatives into Homes for Aged, those homes are registered and up to par for the care of their relatives.

This comes after Cox and a team from the Ministry’s Division of Ageing along with a nurse from the Diego Martin Health Centre visited a Diego Martin home that was accused of neglecting its residents in a video posted to social media last week.

In an interview shortly after, Cox said during her visit she learnt that the home was not registered.

She said investigators from the Division of Ageing also informed her that the home was not up to standard for the care of elderly people.

However, Cox said her ministry does not have the authority to shut the home down.

She said to do that, the Older Persons Homes legislation needs to be updated and proclaimed.

“What the investigators told me before was what they saw yesterday was there was a lot of protocols that were not in place, some standards need to be upgraded. It gives us now a push to really look at the Older Persons Homes legislation which needs to be upgraded,” Cox said. “Because at this point in time we don’t have the capacity to even shut a home down because this would now be under the Private Hospitals Act.”

She said she has already spoken to Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi about starting the process to amend the legislation.

Cox said she was concerned about the operations of the home because the gate to the facility was shut when she and her team arrived on Sunday.

“As we rolled up, the gate was closed electronically from inside and we called and called and we waited for a while, and when we got in, we saw the elderly persons seated and dressed.”

She said she spoke to the man in the now-viral video and he said he was doing well but she was also concerned that he may have been coached into how to respond.

“He was very, as he said in the video, lucid. I asked him if everything was okay, he said yes. But you don’t know if he was coached or if he was saying that because he now knows he got them in trouble or if it was a bit of dementia when he was being videotaped by the neighbours,” Cox said.

She said she spoke to the owner of the home, who denied that the elderly man and other patients were left alone at the home.

She said among the issues discovered at the home so far was the lack of medication administration records and improper mats without rubber backings on the floors.

“I have asked them to continue their investigation because we need to find out what is the truth in the matter. Their preliminary investigation has already unearthed that it is not where it is supposed to be and they have identified some areas that immediately need to be addressed, some health and safety issues.”

Cox said the public needs to be cautious when selecting a home to care for their elderly relatives.

“I want to urge people even when you are taking people to homes or places that people put together to take care of elderly people, make sure they are registered and they are following the proper protocols, they can check our ministry or they can check the Ministry of Health to find out what are some of the basics that the home should have.”