and humiliation were evident on Errol Thompson’s face as concerned neighbours lifted him from a wheelchair and took him, through a back door, to the inside of the house from which he had earlier been evicted, so he could be sheltered for the night.

The blind 67-year-old man, whose legs have been amputated, was among 20 senior citizens who were left on the streets of West Bay, Portmore, St Catherine, after bailiffs cleared out a house on Longford Avenue that served as a nursing home.

“This is very strange to me. I have never experienced anything like that before. So, it is new. I am not really used to the ‘lift up’ thing and I am [afraid] of it,” a dejected Thompson told the Jamaica Observer after he was lifted from his wheelchair and placed on a mattress on the floor.

“They pushed me outside,” Thompson said, unable to hide his pain.

“I have no sight and both of my legs are amputated because of diabetes,” he added, noting that his family had been contacted.

The facility has been in operation for about 25 years under the name Pleasant Care Nursing Home, and the Observer learnt that the owner of the house had presented a court order to qut the premises last year.

A woman by the name of Sonia, who oversees the seniors at the home, said they have not been able to find a new house as yet, and as a result were not able to relocate the seniors.

Sonia, along with the elders, were left on the back foot when a bailiff visited the property last Friday and started removing furniture. The bailiff returned Saturday afternoon and completed the removal, leaving all the senior citizens outside. The main gate to the house was padlocked.

When the Observer went to the location Saturday evening, senior citizens were seen seated outside in the dark. A large pile of furniture and appliances was on the sidewalk. Many neighbours peeked through windows.

Sonia, distressed and embarrassed, said she was not given any warning. She contemplated having the lock forcefully removed, but worried about legal ramifications that could follow. Instead, neighbours discovered a narrow walkway that led to an open door at the back of the property. They used it to take the seniors back inside for the night.

The United Nations Principles for Older Persons stipulates that they “should have access to adequate food, water, shelter, clothing and health care through the provision of income, family and community support and self-help”.

The principle, adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 1991 in appreciation of the contribution that older people make to their societies, also states that senior citizens should be able to live in environments that are safe and adaptable to personal preferences and changing capacities.

But those were grossly violated for 65-year-old Walter Blackstock, who has been at the house for four years.

“It started yesterday [Friday], but the final day was today [Saturday] when the bailiff came and took out everything that was in there. They left about 3:00 pm and we were left out here. They locked the gate and went away and we were left out here,” he told the Observer.

“Some people family members come for them. Well, I didn’t fall in that category. I remain here. They [family] are coming from Clarendon, so it will take a lot of time,” he said, sitting outside on a broken chair about 9:00 pm on Saturday.

However, Blackstock said he felt some amount of relief when he saw neighbours retrieving a mattress so that he and others would have something to sleep on.

“It makes us feel more comfortable because we can lay down. Before this, I didn’t know what the fate would be like tonight,” he said.

A neighbour who asked not to be named, said she couldn’t sit in her home at peace knowing what was happening outside.

“I couldn’t leave them out here. I had to help in any way. A door is open around the back, so we are trying to bring back a mattress inside so they can have something to sleep on for tonight. We can’t make them stay outside like this. It is wrong. Nobody here right now has a relative that is here, and those who have relatives, they came already and took them,” she told the Observer.

“One of the seniors over there I have known her since she has been over there. She has one foot. She is my friend. I can’t leave her outside.”

Carla Gullotta, executive director of Stand up for Jamaica, said the situation demonstrates a lack of humanity.

“We as a group that works with homeless and mentally ill persons, we are deeply concerned that there are people that are extremely fragile, completely alone in a situation which is unacceptable. A solution needs to be found,” Gullotta said.

“In the meantime, we are hoping that the landlord would use some mercy. We are going to see if we can help somehow,” the social activist added.

The situation was brought to the attention of Jamaicans For Justice by the Observer. The group noted that it is willing to provide legal assistance to the operator of the nursing home in having an emergency hold on the eviction until alternative arrangements can be made.

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