Colours, photos make life easier for dementia patients
May 25th 2010 23:20
Colour-coded rooms and photo-labelled beds help dementia patients orient themselves in the new €9 million block at St Vincent De Paul Residence that was officially inaugurated yesterday.
The three-storey extension to the home for the elderly in Luqa accommodates 144 people in 24 rooms and houses Malta's first ward for dementia patients on its ground floor.
Nine-year-old Josef Buttigieg, who hosted the well-attended inauguration ceremony by introducing the speakers, said his 81-year-old nanna Żiżi lived in the new block and had dementia.
"Today, the Prime Minister will open her home and people will learn about how she lives," he said as he introduced the first speaker, the Parliamentary Secretary for the Elderly, Mario Galea.
Mr Galea explained that the rooms were designed following consultation with the UK's Stirling University, which specialised on dementia. "I think that, in future, all homes for the elderly should be dementia-friendly," he told the crowd who gathered for the inauguration of the new block named after Pope John Paul II.
What makes a ward dementia friendly?
Nursing officer Raymond Chetcuti explained that the typical white-washed wards were very confusing to dementia patients as they found it difficult to orient themselves and find their way around. The new block was designed to help patients' memory with colour-coded walls and rooms outside which there were boards bearing the names and photos of those who slept there.
Health Minister Joseph Cassar said the aim of the new block was to encourage residents to feel at home.
"Having said that, I must stress that we all have a duty to help elderly people to continue living in their personal home and their community, so long as circumstances allow it," he said, adding that such circumstances were often health-related. For this reason the government was striving to help people live a healthier life, he said.
Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said the government was committed to ensuring that elderly people had a good quality of life.
In the coming weeks the government would be opening the first night shelter for elderly in Żejtun.
This offered a place where they could sleep at night while spending the day in their community.
Elderly people, he said, were a priceless source of wisdom and experience that ought to be cherished.
"We need to build on this culture of respect and appreciation towards the elderly... who are today reaping the benefits of the work and sacrifices made throughout the years," he said.
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