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‘There is help when need arises’

Dementia Action Week raises awareness on debilitating disease

Memory boxes outside the rooms in the Butterfly Memory Support Unit help to make rooms identifiable through photos or trinkets.

Memory boxes outside the rooms in the Butterfly Memory Support Unit help to make rooms identifiable through photos or trinkets.

Simblija Care Home, which forms part of Hilltop Gardens in Naxxar, recently held a Dementia Action Week, with the aim of raising awareness on the debilitating disease.

“We believe that awareness on this condition is lacking,” said Charmaine Attard, director general of the home.

“Families struggle every day to cope with loved ones with dementia and often may not have the skills or the knowledge of how to cope with them or where they can refer to.

“Families need to know that there is help when the need arises, be it for day care, respite when they get tired or long-term care if it becomes too much to care for a loved one with dementia at home.”

The home opened a unit specifically for clients with dementia in February to cater for their specific needs.

All rooms have electric height-adjustable beds and are supported by all the latest medical equipment.All rooms have electric height-adjustable beds and are supported by all the latest medical equipment.

The Butterfly Memory Support Unit has been designed with dementia in mind both through the colour schemes and also through the furniture and soft furnishings used.

“The rooms are very spacious, offering privacy and dignity to the residents,” pointed out Ms Attard.

All rooms have electric height-adjustable beds and are supported by the latest medical equipment.

All have an en suite bathroom with brightly-coloured doorways to be easily identified.

The bathroom is visible from where the resident is lying in bed to help him or her remember to access it if needed. Floors within the bathrooms are non-slip, have hand rails and the sanitary ware has colour contrast for easy identification.

Memory boxes outside the rooms help to make rooms identifiable through photos or trinkets. There is signage all through the unit to make it easy for clients to find their way.

 “The unit has a warm comfortable living room feel. It also has a dining room where residents are served food cooked in-house by our own chefs and which is adapted to the various needs or likes and dislikes they may have,” said Ms Attard.

Qualified nurses and care assistants are purposely trained to assist the residents 24/7.

“Clients who suffer from dementia need various levels of assistance which may vary from tips to remind them to perform their activities of daily living, like washing and dressing, to total care where the elderly person may need total assistance to wash, dress, mobilise and eat,” said Ms Attard.

“They also need to be surrounded by people who understand the disease process and how it may manifest itself in order to deal with them effectively and communicate with them in the right way. Staff, therefore, need to recognise their needs and be able to communicate with them even when this becomes difficult. We also support the relatives who may be struggling with the reality of having a mother or a father suffer from dementia and who need guidance on how to deal with them.” Clients can also attend a daily programme of activities such as music, drama, pet therapy, art and crafts, specifically designed for them.

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