As Gibraltar witnesses the container units going up for the elderly residential block at the Rooke site as part of Minister Bossano’s National Economic Plan, the GSD is concerned about numerous questions which continue to go unanswered, particularly on the sensitive subject that is the wellbeing of our elderly citizens which is at risk of being disregarded in favour of profit.

Damon Bossino for the GSD said: “How we treat our elderly citizens, which is clearly a vulnerable group in our society, defines us. As things stand and from what we are witnessing in respect of the Rooke residential project, the GSD is very far from coming to a favourable conclusion in this respect. We will continue to search for clarity and answers.”

On 13th January, the GSD sought clarification from the Government on a series of points which included whether Rooke will replace Mount Alvernia, whether new residents will be admitted there, who will be paying the facilities privately and who will own and operate the home. This was followed by further questions in Parliament.

Many are worried about (i) whether we are in effect witnessing the privatisation of our elderly care services; (ii) the standard of care that residents will receive given the very real risk that these will be lowered as when elderly care services are privatised profit has the potential of trumping other considerations – with Minister Bossano already indicating that the cost of care will be reduced at the new site; (iii) whether this modular style old peoples’ home accords with best practice in providing residential home architecture for elderly people, particularly if there remains the possibility that a section will be dedicated to dementia sufferers; (iv) the fact that it is not yet clear what will happen to the Mount Alvernia site once it is wholly or partly emptied of residents as this appears to be the Government’s aim and further whether (v) the site has already been identified for sale to private speculators and if so who are they.

Daniel Feetham, the Opposition spokesman for the elderly said: “The residential home at Rooke raises huge issues about the direction of travel of elderly care in Gibraltar. From quality of life to privatisation of services. The lack of transparency to the questions we have raised just increases the concerns.”

The GSD calls on the government to provide clarity and answers to these important questions many of which have been filed for answer at the next Parliament session.