(Seychelles News Agency) – Seychelles has taken steps to modernise and improve the quality of home care service offered to the elderly, disabled, and other groups of its population through the establishment of a Home Care Agency (HCA), which started its work on March 1.
It will manage and regulate home care services in the country, which before the enactment of the Home Care Agency Act, was being done by the Agency for Social Protection. The Agency for Social Protection was also responsible for the application and management of home care services on all three main islands of Mahe, Praslin, and La Digue.
On Monday, April 24, the Home Care Agency will start its operation at Block A in Unity House in Victoria. The registration team will continue to provide the same service for home care and the HCA will be fully operational by the end of June.
Reverend Daniel Kallee, the HCA chief executive, told SNA that “the government, through the act, has established the agency to provide the highest quality of life possible for those who cannot take care of themselves as a result of sickness, disability, aging and where the ability of a person has been reduced considerably.”
Kallee, an Anglican priest, added that aside from the management and regularisation of home care services and the administration of all applications from people seeking home care service, the Home Care Agency will also be responsible for registering all carers and recipients of care services in Seychelles.
“In addition, we will be registering potential candidates willing to provide home care services, monitor and evaluate the level of services being provided as per established standards, recognising organisations and competent authorities which provide training for carers and facilitate training for caregivers as well as assisting in solving issues and address concerns raised to care between recipient and caregivers,” he said.
The approval of the Home Care Agency Act by the National Assembly and its setup has been welcomed by many in Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean – as home care service for many years was not seen as essential and not given its true value. This has led to working as caregivers amongst one of the most sought out services, attracting very few people to take up this job, and where most of the time, family members had to quit their jobs and take up work as caregivers for their loved ones.
Others feel that through the agency, now there will be a readily available pool of carers that can be enlisted and employed.
“We have been seeking a carer for our elderly sister since last year, in October, and to date, we have not been able to get one. We are now relying on this new agency to recruit the right people for this service,” said Dyanna Pool.
Another person SNA spoke to, Nadia Lagrenade, is the full-time carer of her 10-year-old daughter Nia, who has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Nia is on full-time treatment, and her mother gives her 24-hour care and even sits with her at school.
“I feel that for many years carers have been looked at as inferior with a very low salary for the kind of delicate work we do. Before caring for Nia, I was the caregiver of a bedridden elderly man until he passed. So I know what the job entails. We get paid very late, we do not have a proper scheme for benefits such as end-of-employment dues, though we do get to take annual leave, and now we can also apply for loans as before we could not do so with the salary of SCR6,300 ($476). So, I welcome this new agency and hope they will do what is necessary to valorise us caregivers and our work,” explained Lagrenade.
Clemence Ernesta, in her mid-eighties, looks forward to having a full-time carer and adds that with the new agency, the work of providing care can be better scrutinised. “Though I have yet to get a carer, from what I have heard and gathered, the work needs to be better monitored. I have heard of people being abused by carers and carers themselves being mistreated and working, in some situations, as maids for the whole family.”
The new agency is fully aware of the many challenges of providing home care faced by caregivers, and one of the many priorities is to ensure that home care is regularised, and proper training is given, with strict monitoring and evaluation.
“The Agency will work with the district authority and all stakeholders and families to address all pertinent issues regarding home care. We are conscious of the magnitude of its operation and the challenges associated with home care services and all measures and precautions will be taken for a smooth transition,” said Kallee.
Kallee added that currently, there are a few private businesses offering this service, and “we are open to working and developing partnerships when and where necessary.”
“We are also conducting working visits on Praslin to ensure that the inner island is on board with the agency. All staff working with the ASP Home Care services will be transferred to the Seychelles Home Care Agency. It will take some time to complete the migration process, and the operational aspects of domiciliary care will continue,” said the CEO.