NAU identifies trend of ageing customers

| 17/01/2019 | 67 Comments
Cayman News Service

Tamara Hurlston

(CNS): The director of the Needs Assessment Unit, Tamara Hurlston, told the Public Accounts Committee that her team had noticed a trend of increasing numbers of elderly people coming to them for help, especially indigent medical support, as meagre private sector pensions fail to stretch to the costs of health insurance.

Hurlston appeared before the committee Wednesday to update members on the progress being made on improving the management of government’s social assistance programmes following an update report from the Office of the Auditor General in October.

She outlined a number of challenges that her department continues to face, as well as some emerging new problems.

Hurlston said the most obvious trend was the increase in elderly clients coming to the unit in need of support in many areas, but help with medical needs was the main service they were seeking. She said they had conducted around 1,080 indigent medical assessments for the Health Services Authority over the last few years since the system changed, and many of them are retirees who don’t have adequate pensions to cover their medical needs and who are not able to work.

The department is still dealing with families in need and many other challenges but the increase in elderly people in need is a trend that appears to be structural. This was of particular concern for committee member Chris Saunders, the opposition MLA For Bodden Town West who has warned about this problem since getting elected to office.

Saunders said that the estimated costs of insurance premiums covering people over 65 was more than $1,500 per month. Since most people who have retired on private sector pensions are getting less than $1,800 per month, it comes as no surprise that the government is now carrying the burden of indigent medical cover for Cayman’s ageing population.

Saunders questioned how this growing problem is going to get addressed under the current regime, where people working in the private sector are not earning enough to cover much more than a few years of retirement and where health insurance is prohibitively expense.

He said that the budget line items demonstrated that government is spending many millions of dollars to cover the medical needs of the uninsured elderly and that “being assessed as an indigent is the best health policy for pensioners in Cayman”. He said this was not sustainable and it was up to legislators to tackle this problem. 

Hurlston noted that her department is also helping elderly members of the community with a growing range of services because so many don’t have sufficient pension provision and can no longer expect to work.

She explained that once the elderly are assessed, because their circumstances are unlikely to change, they remain on permanent medical assistance for three years and receive other services without reassessment for more than two years. Younger or able-bodied people are assessed more frequently, Hurlston said.

Another emerging crisis that she identified is housing for families in need. Government has around 400 landlords it works with but there are increasing problems working with them because some are discriminating against families who are getting government support.

Others are reluctant to take families with many children or refuse to rent to government because it will not pay security deposits. These problems are compounded by the increase in rental rates in the Cayman Islands.

Hurlston told PAC that the government cap on monthly rental rate is $1,200 per month but it is getting harder and harder to find homes for families for that amount. She warned that her department was likely to run out of money again this year and need supplementary cash to deal with the growing problem.

Asked about potential solutions by the committee, Hurlston suggested a housing strategy for the future and working with the National Housing Trust.

“The way we are doing it now won’t be sustainable. We need a long-term strategy,” she said, adding that the community affairs ministry was communicating with the ministry responsible for housing about this growing problem.

Hurlston also revealed that the NAU was still under-staffed, as she pointed to the levels of stress and the significant workload at the unit, which was driving people out of the door and had resulted in a high staff turnover. She said that the unit was currently in need of at least five more officers.  

The Needs Assessment Unit has been making good progress on reassessing all of the people and families receiving some forms of payment and had eliminated some 120 people, Hurlston said.

She explained that the review turned up several cases where people were still receiving assistance for family members who had died, or were receiving money even though they were no longer living in Cayman. Others were identified as non-Caymanians.

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Category: Government Finance, Government oversight, Health, Health Insurance, Politics

Comments (67)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Baby Boomers are an appalling bunch of scroungers.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Are these claimants checked to see if they or their families own real estate? Because there is no reason for the state to fund health care for those that have plenty of capital to pay for it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Have you asked Mr. Anthony Eden if he might be willing to assist?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hears a thought. Get some them big hard ass women who down by NAU everyday beggin for money for hair, nails, and eyeskara to look some work. And stop having children if you dont have a job!!!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      I saw one of them on TV saying in her broad Jamaican accent how wonderful the affordable housing was.
      Weren’t these houses meant for Caymanians.?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Part of the problem is that many in this “ageing population” group CHOSE to not prepare for retirement. They expected to eat their cake and have it too. They had assets and means yet chose to use/sell/give to their kids with the straight-up expectation that government take care of them. Ridiculous! The NAU list needs some serious culling.

    I (and many others) forego trips/expensive cars/etc to conscientiously save for emergencies and retirement. Except for in occasional/extreme circumstances, adults should not need to be taken care of by others.

  6. Chet Oswald Ebanks says:

    Woow. As a born Caymanian, who has been unemployed and unable to find employment for the last 3 years or so now. Thanks to NAU, THE MINISTRY OF COMMUNITY AFFAIRS, AND 4 MLA’S. I REACHED OUT TOO, no one cared to help. Sad very, Sad indeed. I have been living with the HIV VIRUS, for 6 years now. NAU refused to assist me anymore, because am employable. Letter dated sometime in March, 2018, after I requested it be put in writting. And that was what Mr. Austin Harris MLA for Prospect wrote to me in an email. Fit to work, that’s what we expect you to do. I have had to go and request my pension, which is for retirement to live. So many issues need to change and laws in Cayman. Insurance, Banking laws. When is Cayman gonna wakeup and provide its citizens with a country they can live, work, and provide for ourselves. So that we are not forced to leave. I have the HIV VIRUS, undetectable. But yet my CINICO INSURANCE HAS TO BE REVIEWED EVERY 3 YEARS.


    So sad when your Premier and Speaker of the house thinks, that importing more people and building 50 storey building. Is the way you invest in your OWN PEOPLE. I CAN WORK. MS
    Tamara Hurlston. But yet you and many others, choose to just make me live from my pension. Am 47, when its depleted. You will be hearing from me and my Mother country across the pond.


    • Anonymous says:

      I hear you and feel some of your pain. You didn’t ask for this disease, but you have to understand that the majority of readers will guess that you indulged in behaviours that caused the HIV.

      I agree with you that you should have assistance, being born of the land of Cayman. Regretfully, you and others in your position have been marginalised to the sidelines. You have a difficult time with health care, and the predominant impression you get is that health care workers blame you for your own circumstance.

      If you truly want and cannot find employment, there is something horribly wrong with the system. I confess that I don’t quite understand the term “Mother Country across the pond” if you were born here.

      I think you deserve unfettered health care. I would hire you if I had a job opening and you could meet minimum qualification. God bless you and keep you safe, Mr. Chet.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Maybe we should make assisted suicide legal then when we have had enough we can simply check out. Not be subjected to bad health & bad care & bankrupting ourselves and families.

  8. Anonymous says:

    This is just a start, we will face major social issues in the coming years. We have focused so much on the wrong people for so long and the real truth is that Cayman is sold out and not to the Jamaicans we hate and want to send home so bad. Just take a look up West bay Road, the average Caymanian owns nothing. The middle class is shrinking you have the very rich and soon all you will have is the very poor. Another growing problem is that Caymanians with some opportunity to invest are been marginalized by people of a certain race who only sell to their own kind or only network with their own kind. We have lost our country because of ignorance. The government is putting bandaid on a issue that is out of their control at this point. We need some laws that will allow Caymanians equal opportunity in our own country and a recourse when we are marginalized and shut out of opportunities.

    • Caymanite says:

      Agree with most of your comments but if you think Jamaicans are not a big part of our problem then you must live somewhere else or don’t go out much. FYI when Caymanians go out the only people they have problems with are the facety illiterate ones that come from there. Thanks to McKeeva they now vote and have more rights than us. When our population is 65000 & 25000+ immigrated from a corrupt crime-ridden country we are in big trouble.

      • Anonymous says:

        Said it like it is , thank you 5.31.
        The NAU is just a support agency for Mac’s status Jamaicans their children and grand children.

      • Anonymous says:

        When I go out is not my issue, my point is that what ever riches and possibilities of a good life we have left is controlled by a certain demographic. I can tell you that the illiterate Jamaicans you mention do not own property in West Bay Road either. They are not the ones taking the jobs we want. They are not the ones buying our beach front and all our coastline and block us from using it. You missed my point entirely. They also clearly are not the ones in the financial industry who bully us at work and lock us out of career development. I encourage you get the financing and pick a property in West Bay Road and try to buy it. Go to the showings and you will see very quickly that these individuals will not sell to you. Try and drive down in Crystal Harbor so you can visit your Caymaninan relative. I really hope you get my point now! I also hope that our leaders stop turning a blind eye on these issue. If you notice I didn’t ask for laws to give us the edge which should be the case in our country. I asked for laws to give us equal opportunity and a recourse when we are marginalized. I am not looking for hand outs or entitlement.

        • Anonymous says:

          Anyone with under a million dollar cannot afford anything on 7 mile beach. So I don’t know who is being discriminated against. It has nothing to do with color, religious views or nationality. It might be education and attitudes. No one stops anyone who wants to spend money. As far as salaries are concerned, I would agree we need a higher minimum salary and that would help people with a Caymanian passport to work at hotels. So if you talking about Camana Bay there are Caymanians working there already. So could you be specific as to what you are talking about?

          • Anonymous says:

            Just because you have a Caymanian passport does not mean you can work. You need to also be Caymanian.

        • Anonymous says:

          Caymanians don’t care!! As long as the white man buys it and not the black, illiterate Jamaican’s as they like to say.

      • Anonymous says:

        I also agree with you 5:31, the Jamaicans caused most of the problems that a lot of the young people don’t even know about. They don’t know that we once had free medical, dental and eye care before the early 70’s. That they started the medical insurance companies and that they got Gov’t to make it into law. They caused us to get more police for land and sea causing more revenue to be place on its citizens. Should I go on………..

        • Anonymous says:

          What a heavenly day it will be when idiots like you stop smelling other people’s sh*t and sniff your own. Continue blaming all your problems on Jamaica because you don’t have your own homegrown criminals. The poor innocent Caymanians always being influenced by the big, bad Jamaican’s, poor Caymanians can’t think for themselves. Wooooiiiiieeeee mi belly.

      • Anonymous says:

        My wish would be for ALL foreigners not born and raised in Cayman to go back to where they came from and leave you mighty Caymanian’s to yourselves. Let’s see you all be your own Doctors, Lawyers, Nurses, Accountants, Domestic Helpers, Construction workers, Teachers, Plumbers, Architects, Gardeners etc…as there is an already “overwhelming” amount of Caymanians with qualifications to do these jobs LMAO. For the more menial posts, let’s not pretend like the majority of you clean your own homes, cook your own meals, and are out in the hot sun doing yard work, much less construction. If it weren’t for England ruling this little dot in the Caribbean sea, dog nyam unuh supper. I said it just like the Jamaican’s unuh hate so much. All Jamaican’s especially, need to say FU to Cayman and leave. To all the Caymanians shouting for independence……LOL. Lastly, middle finger (in advance) to all of you who will thumbs down my comment or feel the need to rebut what I said here.

      • Lil says:

        150% right I could never agree more
        Caymanians sat quietly permitting marrieding and welcoming Jamaicans who slowly became OWNERS of this land.
        95% teachers in Schools principals and85% their children in the Schools.
        75% on ALL jobs ,now this small Kingston AKA CAYMAN ISLAND try…to fix it…

    • Anonymous says:

      You hit the nail on the head! More worried about Jamaicans vs the people who actually come here to take over Cayman

  9. Anonymous says:

    Health insurance after 65 is insane. People cant afford to keep themselves healthy and alive for long after. Government solution will be to throw granny off the bluff?

    • OLD Caymanian Captain says:

      What didn’t the government know that all of these expenses would come along with the big increase of population.

      • Anonymous says:

        Because they said that the immigration law would protect us from people who could not maintain themselves and prevent them from settling here. Then they ignored their own law. Now we all pay the price.

  10. Anonymous says:

    All this on top of the Seafarers allowance they are all collecting because one time back in the day they took a 12ft aluminum boat out to the sandbar.

    • Anonymous says:

      10:15 Not all only went to the sand bar, i went to sea working on Ships all over the world for 22 years an can prove it with my ship discharges an sent my money home to help out the economy an build this country. Some men claiming the seamen benefits are expats an others only went to sea for a
      few weeks but old salts like me and many others deserve the benefits

  11. Anonymous says:

    They should all be required to sign a DNR before receiving any assistance.

  12. Anonymous says:

    What do they mean they have been giving support to dead people and people who are not Caymanian? What efforts are they making to recover any funds they have unlawful paid. How much are we talking about?

    And why are they still supporting non Caymanians on a long term basis?

    • Anonymous says:

      Incompetence, negligence, fren fren, corruption, take your pick. Your guess is as good as mine. But always remember, we have a world class civil service!

      • Anonymous says:

        So you don’t know either…………. but that doesn’t stop you from speculating the worst case.

        You are part of the problem.

        • Anonymous says:

          So, it was a competent civil service acting entirely properly and with integrity like you should have when spending other people’s money, that paid it to people who had no entitlement to it, and then never claimed it back?

          Or no such thing happened on any meaningful scale?

          Which is it?

  13. Unison says:

    I say review again the Maintenance Law. We have child maintenance laws to sustain the livelihood of minors, so baby-fathers or baby-mothers don’t irresponsibly forget their parental roles, and society produces delinquent children.

    Now, the god-givenrole of government is to uphold justice. And wouldn’t an important part of justice be to look out for those who have no voice, the helpless?

    And so just like it is legally demanded that helpless children recieve financial aid from their parents or immediate family – why not those who are aged, reduced to a dependency of not being able to help themselves?

    Where are the sons, the daughters, the sisters, and the brothers? Why must we think government must all the time fix our broken homes???

    • Anonymous says:

      What sort of omnipotent God would allow these people to enter poverty in the first place?

      • Bodden Town says:

        “Omnipotent” is just that! You’re a small minded person. No potency!

        So … shut up!

        • Anonymous says:

          Why God, if he exists, allows and even causes so much suffering if he loves us, is one of the oldest questions of our species. Asking it is not proof of a small mind; quite the opposite.

          • Anonymous says:

            And some questions can never be answered. I don’t ponder on such things. Moreover, get into negative talks. Its good to stay humble, and be respectful too.

        • Anonymous says:


    • Anonymous says:

      how could someone thumbs down a sensible comment like this?

      • Anonymous says:

        Uni dont get it. Times are hard. You don’t expect children to take care of their parents. They have their lives to live.

    • Anonymous says:

      Please they don’t even enforce the maintenance law for children much less would they do this for adults.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ask Auntie what is the process to enforce the maintenance law. There lies the problem. How do you enforce what is already law?

      This is for elderly adults and children.

      Think of the issues. How do you enforce if you as the mother lives overseas and the deadbeat father doesn’t pay? What is the process? How do you enforce the children to pay when the elderly parent lives in Cayman and the children live overseas?

      Cayman government barely even enforces when both live in Cayman.

  14. Anonymous says:

    This situation clearly says something about this so called christian island.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Did you watch or read this article? It appears the problem is again with the Ministry and not the department. The Chief Officer is micromanaging the recruitment and it was even called out as I efficient from the Financial Secretary who says he delegates to his department heads and managers. The Chief Officer couldn’t even answer questions and her Deputy tried to assist her best he could. He seems very intelligent and is more Cheif Officer quality than this lady. Maybe the Deputy Governor need to ensure that when he hires for these positions the right panel from both public and private sector is chosen. I feel for the NAU as it almost seems that the Chief Officer has something personal against them and is blocking their success. The Director and her staff should be commended for remaining faithful civil servants while being oppressed by insecure leadership from the Ministry.

  16. Anonymous says:

    All we need is that fifty story hotel with all those billionaires and all will be well.

    • Anonymous says:

      Your tactics have grown old and tiresome. We get it. You like to troll. You have become consistent and identifiable.

  17. Anonymous says:

    You mean their Civil Service pensions aren’t enough?

    • Anonymous says:

      They are. They look after their own. It’s the people who have worked all their lives in the private sector that get screwed the most.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I have to say I was impressed by the PAC members except Bernie who really can’t be helped.

    I was disappointed in the Director of the NAU who continues to play the blame game. However it is clear the PAC members have begun to see the light.

    Our people need help and urgent help. The NAU must reform and become a department that actually meets the needs of its customers.

    PAC members admitted yesterday that they have to keep calling the Director to get things done.I am happy the Director answers the PAC members calls. But if she answered the customers cries for help the PAC members would not be calling.

    I was also impressed by the Chief Officer and her Deputy. I really believe real change will happen.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Has the NAU read the Maintenance Law? What about the obligation of family members to take care of the elderly (and children)? Is any charge being placed in people’s land if they are receiving Government support, at least so the coffers can be refunded one day if the person is asset rich, but cash poor?

    • Anonymous says:

      Silly rabbit, laws are for expats.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly, it depends on who you are. NAU was quick to point it out to me and I was my parent only child and needed assistance myself. I took care of my parent to the best of my ability and was lucky that my parent had other pensions to help support them but even with that the cost of living is just too high. A few years ago there was someone in the news that needed a place to stay. This person had many children and was family to a politician. Guess who ended up giving this woman a house? Government.

    • Anonymous says:

      As a former NAU employee I can tell you that the Ministry, Director of NAU and previous Minister did not enforce the Maintenance Law. In fact, in many cases quite the opposite would happen – the Minister would send directive to the NAU Director to provide assistance to certain persons – even though they did not meet specified criteria.
      Thank you for the laugh about putting a charge on people’s land – I dare the powers-to-be to publish the statistics on how many people currently have a charge on the land.

      • Anonymous says:

        I do not doubt anything that you say. You have just described overt corruption. Have you reported it to the anti corruption unit?

  20. Lo-Cal says:

    The photo in this story is wrong. That is Teresa Echenique

    CNS: You’re right. Apologies to both ladies.

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