Fiennes staff, residents bemoan ‘unhealthy and unsanitary’ conditions

It is now left up to the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda to determine the way forward as it relates to the ‘deplorable’ conditions at the Fiennes Institute – a government-operated facility providing care and accommodation for senior citizens, including those unable to look after themselves without familial support.

Health Minister Molwyn Joseph raised the matter with his Cabinet colleagues on Wednesday, moments after workers and residents staged yet another protest outside the elderly-care facility, to highlight what they say are unsanitary conditions and an unhealthy living environment.

Up to late last evening, no word was forthcoming from the Cabinet. 

In the past, Joseph was quoted in the media as saying that an undisclosed sum of money has been allocated for the construction of a new facility for the elderly. It is unclear where those plans are at present.

Earlier on Wednesday, President of the Antigua and Barbuda Public Service Association (ABPSA) Joan Peters explained that the building, adjacent to the old Holberton Hospital, is falling apart and no longer suitable for the workers and the residents.

“Up to last week a concrete fell and almost hit a nurse. We don’t want an earthquake and bad weather to come and people be injured. Centipedes, honey bees [have] been biting the staff and the workers; they are also getting ringworms,” Peters said.

She also spoke about a proposal to temporarily relocate the Fiennes staff and residents to the former Nurses Hostel premises, questioning what became of that plan.

“What happened; the Nurses Hostel? We need answers. Has it become a private building or does it still belong to the government? We want to know,” Peters demanded.

Carl Lashley, a resident of the facility, also shared his plight on Wednesday.

“We are being treated like animals,” Lashley said. “It is time enough that they do something about this. We need bathrooms, beds, and blankets. If I take you now and show you my sheet, it is appalling. I find it more comfortable sleeping on cardboard.”