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Friday, November 17 2017 @ 03:33 PM AST

Ministry of Community Development launches new GAPP Cycle

General News The following is the address delivered by the Honourable Nizam Baksh, Minister of Community Development, at the launch of the GAPP Cycle I

I am very proud to be present at the formal launch of Level One of the Geriatric Adolescent Partnership (GAPP). This programme has been in operation for the past seventeen (17) years, training young people to meet the needs of the elderly in their community.

The Geriatric Adolescent Partnership Programme is designed to sensitise young people to the ageing process and help them, through training and field visitation, to develop practical skills in geriatric care.
The programme has two levels:
Level One targets young people between seventeen (17) and twenty five (25) years old and teaches skills in caring for young adults as well as the elderly.
Level Two provides training to persons between eighteen (18) and thirty (30) years old about the psychological and physiological changes in the ageing process.

Today, the Ministry of Community Development formally launches the Geriatric Adolescent Partnership Programme - Level One which will target younger participants and teach the basics in caring for the elderly. For fourteen (14) weeks, Level One participants would be exposed to five main areas of Training:
- Nutrition/Home Management Skills
- Practicum Community Visits
- Nursing Aide Skills
- Life Skills; and
- Electives such as Parenting, Fit for Life practices, Financial Management.

Over the years, hundreds of persons have benefited from the training that helps to prepare participants for careers in Geriatric Care, and in the case of the advanced level, to help participants upgrade their caregiving skills.

This programme has been in existence for over a decade, and that period has been characterised by consistent improvements.
This is why I am pleased to announce today that I approached the Cabinet and Cabinet has agreed to increase the monthly stipend for geriatric caregivers from $1800 to $2500 commencing May 2011. We have also increased the number of caregivers from four hundred (400) to six hundred (600).
This year, participants will not only be going out to the senior citizens, but the seniors will also come into nine (9) centres for sessions that will encourage them to embrace active living. We are trying to put programmes for the elderly to be more proactive and in the process reduce their doctor bills.
There will also be in-service training for the present caregivers in four (4) districts – North, South, East and Central to ensure that their care giving skills are up to date. This is a useful initiative. We consider this necessary for those who are already trained to keep abreast with skills and expertise in care giving. Our graduates should be exposed to continuous training.

GAPP is aligned to the Ministry of Community Development’s strategy to deliver sustainable, developmental programmes to communities. GAPP is one programme that achieves this goal. It is a mutually beneficial course in which young people in our communities learn lifelong, practical skills and Senior Citizens benefit from their care and attention.
Further, the programme fulfils two of Government’s Seven Interconnected Pillars for Sustainable Development:

– People Centred Development; and
- Poverty Eradication and Social Justice.

On completion of the G.A.P. Programme, graduates are equipped with skills that make them employable in Geriatric Care.
The coordinators of GAPP can point to numerous success stories in which GAPP Graduates have been employed at both public and private institutions, and have become self-sufficient individuals.
At the end of the last cycle, twenty (20) graduates gained entrance to COSTAAT, ten (10) gained entrance to the Nursing Academy of Trinidad and Tobago and several others have taken up employment in public and private institutions, in areas of patient care and community home care, nutrition and other career paths. As long as participants are committed to being successful in this course, they will see positive outcomes. The GAP Programme has tremendous potential for future development. On an annual basis, I could envisage that this programme will grow from strength to strength.

These mentioned outcomes align with the Strategic goal of Poverty Eradication - which we now refer to as Wealth Generation. This programme creates opportunities for persons who were unemployed or underemployed to increase their skills and knowledge, and in the process increase their incomes.

GAPP also fulfils the objective of People Centred Development which puts human development at the core of our system of governance in Trinidad and Tobago.
GAPP is truly a people-centred programme. It benefits the young, the elderly, and the community as a whole.

While the young people have the opportunity to increase their earning power, they also learn valuable life skills including Communication, Interpersonal Relationships, preparing for the world of work and entrepreneurial skills.
At the end of the programme, we envisage that graduates are more sensitive to the needs of the elderly in their immediate surroundings and would develop a keen understanding of their responsibility to others. Participants’ interactions with senior citizens also enhance their communication skills, promoting self-esteem and fostering friendships across generations. To adapt a quote from Martin Luther King Jr., ‘Knowledge plus character – that is the goal of true education.’ And this is what GAPP offers its graduates.

The Senior citizens also benefit tremendously. Apart from the care given to them, the genuine interest shown by the younger generation during field training, can be more medicinal than medicine itself. These visits help to bridge the gap between the present and the previous generation, and afford the senior citizens an opportunity to participate in life-changing activities, such as learning new innovations and technologies from the youth.
These interactions also help to decrease loneliness, boredom, and depression. They also do a lot for increasing self-esteem. Undoubtedly, these exchanges help to improve the health of the elderly, and diminish the effects of psychological and physical diseases and disorders.

Finally, at the Community Level, GAPP helps to equip more persons to meet the needs and address the issues specific to the young and the elderly in our society.

This inter-generational programme also promotes the passing on of cultural traditions and values from one generation to the next. It helps to build a sense of personal and societal identity while encouraging tolerance and understanding.

In conclusion, I would like to congratulate the dedicated staff at the GAPP office and at the various centres, for helping a number of generations in our communities. I hope that this programme will continue to grow and make meaningful contribution for the youth and for the senior citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.

I thank you and may God bless us all.

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