After conducting a survey of the country back in 1984, Ken Tout, then Coordinator of Help the Aged International and his wife Jai, decided that the best and most ideal place to build a home for the elderly was in serene San Ignacio, Cayo.
This decision was then followed by a team of volunteers from Operation Raleigh (UK) who started construction in March 1985. Operation Raleigh completed about 50% of the building and left in June that same year. In 1986 another team sponsored by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham’s Initiative continued with the construction work from March to June under the Supervision of Peace Corp Volunteer, David Wheeler (builder) and with substantial support from the Listowel Boys Training School and the community at large. The building dimensions then were: 134’L X 32’W, 6’ W porch, 6 rooms (16 X 16’), Dining Hall 32 X 22’, Kitchen 33 X 10’. On 5th May 1986 we received the visit of the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councilor Frank Carter and the Lady Mayoress, Elsie, who came to see the work in progress. At the time, Dr. Bidar Swamy was the Chairman of the HelpAge Belize - Cayo Committee and he was very instrumental in lobbying for the building with Help the Aged International based in the United Kingdom. Dr. Swamy resigned his post on 10th November 1985 as he left to pursue further studies abroad. The HelpAge Cayo Committee was then formed by Elias Awe, Dan Silva, Azucena Winsor, Ismael Garcia, Juva Fernandez and John Lamb.
The Octavia Waight Centre was inaugurated on 5th September 1986 by Hon. Philip Stanley Wilberforce Goldson.
The Centre was given the name in honour of Mrs. Octavia Waight, affectionately known as “Miss Acti”, who was one of the first midwives and care givers to serve the community at a time when there was no resident medical doctor in the area. Mrs. Waight was born on 1st August 1868 and died on 6th January 1959 at the full age of 91 years.
To provide the elderly with an environment that enhances dignity, self esteem, and physical and mental well-being.
People are physical, psychological, socio-cultural beings who are in constant interaction with their total environment. People have the capacity to change themselves and their environment. They live within a family and society.
A society is the sum of individuals living within a defined geographical location, sharing a common political system. A society is made up of classes and groups of people who in turn make up a family. The responsibility for the promotion and maintenance of health to individuals should be that of the society in which the family resides.
Health is a state of well-being. It is the fundamental right of each person therefore, to be actively involved in maintaining health, through all stages of the life cycle at its optimum level. Health is dynamic; factors which contribute to the state of one’s health are genetic endowment, culture,political and economical status, education, the state of the environment and available services (Health/Social).
The society is particularly responsible for providing an optimum environment conducive to health for those who have already contributed their productive years to the building of the country. The aged men and women have a right to optimum health.
In order to have a uniform and meaningful set of policies to operate the residential home known as the OCTAVIA WAIGHT CENTRE, the Board of Governors adopts the following criteria and requirements for the effective functioning of the home:
Each applicant for residency will be considered based on criteria determined by the Board of Governors. Some of the criteria is listed below.
Must be Belizean, over 65 years of age, able to walk or walk with a cane, and care for basic needs such as bathing. Those unable to care for themselves, or wheelchair applicants, will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Must provide information on previous medical history from their doctor as well as a medical certificate stating that they are free from contagious disease and with no present or past history of mental disorder.
A monthly contribution is asked of the family or responsible party of the elder; or proven information must be given, that he/she has no next of kin or other means of financial or other support.
Before any Senior Citizen is accepted at the Octavia Waight Centre, the following is requested that:
At the time of taking up residence a legal transfer be effected i.e. an official document be signed by the prospective resident or next of kin and a Board official and a witness.
No family member of any resident will be allowed to stay at the Centre for any specified time other than on the official visiting hours: 10:00 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Sunday to Saturday.
The person must be continent of bladder and bowel.
Able to bathe and care for personal cleanliness.
Blindness or deafness acceptable.
Mentally alert and with no dementia.
Applicant must not be combative or disruptive.
The person must not be a user of drugs or alcohol.
- Residents will stay at the Centre unless they inform the Supervisor of planned absence and of their destination.
- Residents will do as much for themselves as possible to keep themselves, their clothes, beds and rooms, neat and clean.
- They will cooperate and/or work with the Care Assistant as necessary to assure a good quality of cleanliness.
- They will bathe regularly, preferably daily, after which they will wear fresh clothing.
- Board of Governors members are allowed into rooms at any reasonable time.
- Residents will all come to the dining table when called, and eat peacefully together.
- Residents should be kind, mannerly and helpful to each other; they should not call each other names, or swear at each other.
- Smoking is prohibited except occasionally on verandah. No smoking is preferred.
- Must work at acceptance of institutional living and be kind and cooperative.
(These rules adopted in 1986. Revised: 1994, 1998, 2001, 2006, 2008)