Laws needed to protect vulnerable

A call for poli­cies and laws to be put in place to pro­tect el­der­ly and men­tal­ly ill cit­i­zens, this call comes from the Pres­i­dent of the Trinidad and To­ba­go Res­i­den­tial Homes As­so­ci­a­tion, Car­o­line Ruiz.

Speak­ing to Guardian Me­dia Lim­it­ed, Mrs Ruiz said she was dis­ap­point­ed with what was hap­pen­ing at the Trans­form Life Min­istries Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­ter.


The fa­cil­i­ty she said is not a home but a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre.

On Wednes­day, Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice, Gary Grif­fith led of­fi­cers of the Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Re­sponse Team to Trans­for­ma­tion Life Min­istry Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre in Arou­ca where they found 69 per­sons.

Cells at the fa­cil­i­ty were equipped with pad­locks which were placed on the out­side, mean­ing the per­sons on the in­side could not get out un­less some­one opened the cell. There were peo­ple in the cells.

Po­lice al­so found tasers and ba­tons.


Ruiz said while the de­scrip­tion of the cen­tre did not fall with­in the am­bit of what her As­so­ci­a­tion does, “I am very con­cerned that there are poli­cies in place to treat with sit­u­a­tions such as this and noth­ing was done”, she said, “ We have been lob­by­ing with gov­ern­ment agen­cies to look in­to in­dus­try, we want to work with them to help make it bet­ter but there are var­i­ous chal­lenges.”

There are 167 homes for the aged reg­is­tered with the As­so­ci­a­tion.

But Ruiz said there cur­rent­ly over 300 homes in the coun­try.

She said the there has been an in­crease in per­sons look­ing for places be­cause of the grow­ing num­ber of young peo­ple who are men­tal­ly ill.

“How do we treat with that when we are gov­erned by poli­cies on­ly for the el­der­ly, there is a clear need for all stake­hold­er to meet and cre­ate poli­cies to pro­tect at-risk per­son es­pe­cial­ly the men­tal­ly ill and el­der­ly,” Ruiz said.

She is al­so urg­ing gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials to meet with Res­i­den­tial Home­own­ers and to work with the as­so­ci­a­tion

“We have be­come a work­ing so­ci­ety and we need to places to put our loved ones and its time for the coun­try to know who are the rep­utable as­so­ci­a­tions to place your loved ones”, she said, “the coun­try al­so needs to be ed­u­cat­ed about men­tal health”.

Reporter: Otto Carrington

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