Hope Residential Living Area
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF DEMENTIA?
It often starts innocuously. Misplaced reading glasses. Forgetting to turn off the fire on the stove. And then, when it is full blown, a sufferer can find himself wandering far from home. 'It' is the dreaded dementia.
WHAT DO THE NUMBERS LOOK LIKE?
A National Mental Health Survey of the Elderly (2003) conducted by the Institute of Mental Health established that dementia is prevalent amongst 6% of people aged 65 years and above. By 2030, this figure will jump three fold to 47,922 (up from the 2003 number of 15,810). It affects 13.9% of elderly aged 75 and above.
HOW CAN HOPE BE FOSTERED?
Currently, dementia-stricken elderly tend to be housed in nursing homes, with specific care for early dementia residents to halt the progress of the disease.
Though dementia is incurable, the speed of deterioration can be halted – and the quality of life optimised—with the right environment. We saw this need with The Salvation Army Peacehaven Nursing Home and reached out to create the Hope Residential Living Are (Hope RLA), which offers a home-like living environment, catered specifically to people with early dementia.
Hope RLA runs on a model of care that empowers early dementia residents to make their own decisions. The rooms are purposely furnished with the bare necessities so that residents can infuse the rooms with their own personalities through personal mementoes and photographs that can stimulate the mind.
Residents have the freedom to cook, watch TV, do the laundry, and learn how to use the computers or take part in organised activities, with the help of qualified nurses and caregivers trained in dementia care. Families of residents are encouraged to bring them out, or bring them home for the night or for the weekends to integrate better with the community and experience a different setting.
HOW HAS IT WORKED OUT SO FAR?
An assessment conducted in 2007 of residents in the programme showed promising results. Overall, Hope RLA's residents' well being improved by 30%.
The care model has secured recognition and support from the Ministry of Health through subvention. With numerous requests for admission and a waiting list comprising mainly the poor, we funded the expansion of the programme. A new floor was added to increase capacity. We also funded part of the costs of helping residents on public assistance.