Battling dementia with special care… and ping-pong

ASH Jurong-East-Home

Beensprout visited All Saints Home’s latest centre at Jurong East for their grand opening ceremony, and got an inside look at how their new centre is equipped to take better care of the patients in their dedicated Dementia Care Ward.

All Saints Home, a Voluntary Welfare Organisation (VWO), officially opened its latest centre at Jurong East today on May 20th, 2016, at an opening ceremony graced by Guest-of-Honour, Dr. Lam Pin Min, Minister of State for Health. The addition of 194 beds in the six-storey centre brings the total capacity in its four homes to 734, testament to the growth of an organisation that was founded 30 years ago with just 30 beds.

This new centre has a special Dementia Care Ward for 49 residents with dementia who have symptoms that include disorientation, memory loss and personality changes. All Saints Home’s team of doctors, therapists and nurses will provide person-centred care based on each dementia resident’s needs, abilities and psychological well-being, with the hope of stabilising the condition of the patients (there is currently no known way to reverse the effects of dementia.)

Comforting environment

The Dementia Care Ward has some special features designed to help the patients. For instance, the common areas in the wards are decorated to mimic areas which the residents are familiar with – the room where residents can sit and have a drink is decorated like an old-school kopitiam, as studies have shown that persons suffering from dementia are helped by being in familiar surroundings. There are even plans to build a ‘Reminiscence Walkway’ where scenes of old Singapore are recreated in the Dementia Ward to help dementia residents find comfort in nostalgic environments.

If a resident suffers from a panic attack, however, the staff can bring them to a quiet room, to provide them with the necessary space to recover from their attack. The room can also be converted to an isolation room with a bed for residents who contract contagious illnesses, to give them a place to seek treatment without the risk of infecting other residents.

The quiet room in the dementia care ward, where patients hit by panic attacks can find repose, can also be quickly converted by the nursing staff into an isolation room for patients who contract contagious illnesses.

The quiet room in the dementia care ward, where patients hit by panic attacks can find repose, can also be quickly converted by the nursing staff into an isolation room for patients who contract contagious illnesses.

All Saints Home's core values of Compassion, Assurance, Respect and Excellence help staff and residents to connect with each other.

All Saints Home’s core values of Compassion, Assurance, Respect and Excellence help staff and residents to connect with each other.

Most importantly, the new Jurong East centre will have All Saints Home’s signature ‘heartware’ known as 360 CARE for the residents, staff and people of Yuhua. With Compassion, Assurance, Respect and Excellence, staff and residents live, care and connect together in harmony under one roof.

Specialised training for dementia care

The Dementia Care Ward will also have a team of 20 dedicated nurses who will focus on providing care and supervision for the residents. They have also gone through extensive training, covering person-centred care, management of challenging behaviours and use of assessment tools.

“All Saints Home (Jurong East) partnered Agency for Integrated Care to build up our dementia care capability through attachments, training and workshops. We had consultations with the Ministry of Health and AIC on the design of our new Dementia Ward,” shared Mr. Chua Hung Seng, the Chairman of All Saints Home, in his speech at the opening ceremony.

“We have plans to deepen the skill sets for our nursing staff, explore other forms of therapy and, more importantly, empower, encourage and enable family members of our residents to participate and confidently care for these residents,” said Mr. Michael Tay, the Chief Executive Officer of All Saints Home. “It is our hope that everyone – our residents, family, staff and the people of Yuhua – can bond, share and age together with grace, dignity and comfort.”

Engaging the community

Mr Tay hopes to engage the community to support the activities at the home as well, and he shared that volunteers play a key role in many of the activities that the residents engage in. For instance, a new form of rehabilitation for residents with dementia is Table Tennis Therapy, where residents with dementia can play table tennis with volunteers, family members and staff to improve hand-eye coordination, concentration and to stay physically and mentally fit.

The Table Tennis Therapy sessions were originally introduced more than a year ago by a volunteer who had also worked with the table tennis team participating at the Paralympics. The sessions are so popular that they are now run across all four of the All Saints Home centres, although this remain dependent on volunteer availability.

The residents enjoy a table-tennis session run by volunteers at each of the All Saints Home centres every week.

The residents enjoy a table-tennis session run by volunteers at each of the All Saints Home centres every week.

Other activities that volunteers can engage in as well include art therapy, where volunteers teach the residents how to paint, and music therapy – many of the residents love to sing as well. Many residents also enjoy the Bingo sessions sometimes run by volunteers.

Doing our part in the battle against dementia

As our population ages, dementia will become an ever greater challenge. Today, dementia is already estimated to cost $1.4billion dollars annually. A greater understanding of dementia will be necessary for us to meet this challenge, and dementia-friendly communities, with specialised training for volunteers, are already being launched across Singapore, such as in Yishun, where All Saints Home’s third centre is based.

Nursing homes such as the All Saints Home’s Jurong East centre will always be a part of the solution, especially for the less fortunate (80% of the patients at the centre are subsidised) and we can all do our part – even through something as simple as a ping-pong session with the residents.

If you would like to volunteer with the All Saints Home, you can check out the opportunities available on their website. To be a dementia friend in dementia-friendly community, find out more from Forget Us Not.

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