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Focus on home care for the elderly

Programme aims to open nursing centres and cut down number of patients in hospitals

Gulf News

Dubai: As the UAE population ages rapidly, government hospitals are offering home care to elderly patients to reduce infections at hospitals and cut down the high costs of health care.

A senior doctor at the Ministry of Health said on Monday that it was found that half of the patients who were permanently at a hospital could be discharged if a home care programme was available.

Dr Mona Al Kuwari, director of Primary Health Care section, said the number of the elderly has increased three-fold during the past 15 years. She said by 2020, about 20 per cent of the population will comprise the elderly. "People are living longer because of improved living conditions and better health care," she said.

The home care programme has started in Ras Al Khaimah with a team of one doctor and three nurses, said Dr Mohammad Ameen Al Otaibi, director of primary health care at Ras Al Khaimah. He said home care is provided to the elderly who can be discharged from hospital but still need medical or nursing care.

Similar home care programmes have started in Dubai, Umm Al Quwain, Ajman and Fujairah, Dr Mona said.

Family members

She said family members are trained in how to care for the elderly and the ministry provides special beds and wheelchairs.

The home care programme offers nursing care and physiotherapy, psychological and social services. Care of the elderly is also provided through a doctor's visit at least once in three months, she said.

The director said there has been a big increase in the number of patients with chronic diseases.

Due to sedentary lifestyle, a large section of society has non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and cardio-vascular diseases.

The benefits of home care include a decrease in the possibility of hospital acquired infections, cutting down the number of patients at hospitals who need only basic care.