Members of the 35th Legislature, led by Senate President Novelle E. Francis, Jr., convened in a meeting at the Capitol Building. Seniors had the opportunity to play the role of a senator for the mock session, which was held by lawmakers as part of Older Americans’ Month. Annually, in May, Older Americans Month is recognized nationwide as a time to recognize and honor the contributions seniors make to their communities. Established in 1963, this unique commemoration honors the achievements of both past and present senior citizens.
Senator Francis welcomed all the seniors to the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall. “It is an honor and a privilege for you to be here today. Our seniors are the pillars of the Virgin Islands, and it is important that they continue to engage in our community. We stand on the backs of our seniors.”
During the mock session, seniors voted in the affirmative for Bill No. 35-000AM, an Act amending Title 19 of the Virgin Islands Code relating to nursing homes and assisted living facilities and adding Chapter 76 to establish the services that nursing homes and assisted living facilities are required to provide, limitations on financial charges, requirements for visitation, and the rights of a resident. The bill seeks to ensure residents are given services such as grooming, nutritional meals, personal hygiene, and oral hygiene. Furthermore, the measure addresses the facility requirements for visitation, the rights of a resident, the responsibilities of a facility, and the facility charges and limitations.
Overall, senators supported the measure, but some expressed additional challenges facing the aging population. Policymakers expressed that the income requirement to be accepted into the senior homes should be lowered, there is a need for additional events and activities, and building independent living homes for the population of seniors who are able-bodied should also be considered.
The following senators attended the meeting: Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Donna A. Frett-Gregory, Marvin A. Blyden, Angel L. Bolques, Jr., Franklin D. Johnson, Samuel Carriόn, Javan E. James, Sr., Ray Fonseca, Dwayne M. DeGraff, Carla J. Joseph, Marise C. James, Alma Francis Heyliger, and Milton E. Potter.