Graduates of a three-month intensive course in home care facilitated by the BVI Red Cross accepted their certificates, joined in a song, and revelled in the camaraderie of their shared experiences during a ceremony held Jan. 19 at the BVIRC headquarters.
The Home Care Basics Programme gives trainees the opportunity to work directly with residents at the Adina Donovan Home for the Elderly.
Nurse Helen Frett and Programme Support Officer Janique Gordon, who oversaw the class, thanked members for their commitment to providing essential services to residents, whether in a professional capacity or for their own family members.
“You’re going to make a positive difference in the lives of your patients,” Ms. Frett said. “You will enable them to live in the comfort of their homes, where they can live their lives to the fullest. You will be the light in the darkness of their difficulties. You will be there to comfort them in their time of pain and sorrow. And you will be there to ease their days of loneliness.”
Graduates must complete 35 hours of classroom instruction and 40 hours of supervised clinical training, including laboratory skills, within three months, according to BVIRC Director Stacy Lloyd.
They must also complete written and practical exams.
Ms. Lloyd said the organisation has supported the programme for years to help make sure the needs of the territory’s aging population are met.
“There is a corresponding increase in the complexity of their health care needs as new and emerging disease trends increase,” she said after the ceremony. “This programme adequately addresses, in a holistic way, the care needs of the aging population.”
The certification lasts for three years, and Ms. Lloyd told the graduates they are welcome to return and keep their skills up to date.
Need in community
Guest speakers included Health and Social Development Minister Marlon Penn, BVIRC Chairman Troy Christopher, and keynote speaker Kareem-Nelson Hull, all of whom shared their experiences of caring for aging family members.
As minister, Mr. Penn said he hears requests for aid on a daily basis.
“What you perform is a very important duty to a lot of families and individuals who may not have the patience to deal with it on a daily basis and need someone to come assist them through the process,” he said. “I want you to take this opportunity very seriously.”
He also pledged to the BVIRC director that necessary support would be provided to increase the cohort of skilled workers able to help vulnerable individuals.
Speakers acknowledged that being a caregiver comes with challenges and commended the graduates for their efforts to provide their patients with dignified, compassionate care, giving them as much autonomy as possible.
‘Lots of patience’
Student Marilyn Freeman thanked the instructors for their passion, humility and “lots of patience” and said she looks forward to putting her new skills to use.
She also encouraged more men to consider taking advantage of the programme, as the graduating class was entirely female.
“Try it, and you will love the experience,” she said.
The following people graduated from the BVI Red Cross’ home care aid programme as part of the Class of 2022: