Past residents of Cyril Ross Nursery not neglected

Port of Spain: The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) notes the article by the Trinidad Express titled ‘Neglected after Cyril Ross’ published on February 3rd , 2020, which captures the concerns expressed by interviewed past residents of the Cyril Ross Nursery but does not examine the interventions being made for resolving the stated concerns.

The OPM is cognizant of the challenges faced by some of the past residents from the Cyril Ross Nursery and other Community Residences. In response to this situation, the National AIDS Coordinating Committee (NACC) was given a directive to seek meaningful solutions for helping these past residents of Cyril Ross as well as those who will be transitioning in the near future.

The members of the NACC, which coordinates the National Response to HIV and AIDS, recognize that there is a need to support the empowerment of vulnerable communities including people infected and affected by HIV to receive help and the necessary support. Support is currently available through both the Governmental and Non-Governmental agencies.

At the Governmental level, the range of support services currently being delivered to persons in need includes:

a) A Green Paper on the National Policy HIV and AIDS for public consultation. This policy seeks to ensure that persons living with HIV and AIDS receive social equity and the quality of care in address their needs;

b) Provision of annual subventions, paid by the OPM, to assist Cyril Ross Nursery to support the needs of children living with the HIV;

c) A Transition Model and the implementation of Transition Homes to support residents exiting Community Residences with their integration into society;

d) Welfare grants are available and can be accessed through the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services for past residents of Cyril Ross Nursery; and

e) Outpatient clinics which are available for adolescents living with HIV who have transitioned from the paediatric site to the adult treatment site. The clinics are available at the Regional Health Authorities and the Medical Research Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago (MRFTT) which receives support from the Ministry of Health.

Several Non-Govermental Organisations (NGOs) also support programmes for the current and past residents for the Cyril Ross Nursery. It is important to acknowlodge that there are several past residents of the Cyril Ross Nursery who have transitioned successfully to indepentant living. There are some who are struggling during the transition process and thereafter and this matter is currently being dealt with for mobilising support from NGOs that provide essential outreach services. Part of the envisaged strategy moving forward also includesthe engagement of individuals to determine the development of their own Care Plan.

The Society of St Vincent De Paul has been collaborating with the NACC and Child Affairs Division the OPM to develop programmes to address the strengthening operations at the Cyril Ross Nursery to improve the developmental and psychosocial needs of children currently at this home as well as past residents. One such area that is receiving urgent attention is Individual Case Management. Each resident at Cyril Ross Nursery may have different aspirations and the Case Management approach will seek to ensure that individual development needs are tailored to suit each resident.

The provision of housing for those who are socially displaced is not enough to create a stable environment for past residents of the Cyril Ross Nursery. A holistic approach is needed, incorporating the many agencies and citizens who provide outreach support, to assist the current and past residents of Cyril Ross Nursery with navigating their integration into society. The NACC welcomes private and public sector partnerships towards the achievement of these initiatives. All citizens are also encouraged to support past residents of Cyril Ross Nursery, who may be vulnerable or socially displaced, by creating a compassionate community. Persons interested in supporting these efforts can contact the NACC Secretariat at naccsecretariat@gov.tt or the Society of St Vincent De Paul at info@ssvptt.org.

In guiding the media’s coverage of persons living with HIV, please be advised that the HIV response does not support the circulation/publication of the names, institutions or images of persons living with or suspected of living with HIV. The stigmatisation of people living with HIV has implications for society as a whole. Providing the names and images of citizens living with HIV has serious repercussions for their health and wellbeing and should be discouraged at all times.

NACC, the Society of St Vincent De Paul and the management of Cyril Ross Nursery are all committed to developing strategies that ensure the sustainability of all programmes which benefit ALL people living with HIV and AIDS, as well as all other populations affected or at risk. The NACC remains steadfast to its Vision 2030 goal to #EndAIDSBy2030TT.

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