None of us wants to think about ageing, and especially the idea of having to rely on others, or our loved ones, to take care of our most basic physical needs; but knowing that professional support is available is incredibly reassuring. When it comes to senior care in the UAE, Emirates Home Nursing focuses on not only delivering exemplary medical support, but on building relationships with our elderly clients and their families.
According to Dubai Health Authority figures, the geriatric population in the emirate is growing as life expectancy increases, and with that comes burgeoning demand for senior care. Ahead of World Health Day on 7 April, we talk to Dr Momina Javed about the importance of seniors care in alleviating the burden on families.
“We’ve definitely seen a rise in home care support requests from Emirati and Indian families in particular, as these nationalities culturally tend to have older relatives living with them,” says Dr Javed.
“Most families are not at all phased by bringing someone into the home as it is part of the Dubai culture. It still gives them the sense that their family member is being cared for by the family, as the care takes place in the family home,” she adds. When you bring a ‘stranger’ into your home, you want to know that they will go beyond merely offering basic care and will establish a rapport with their client – you mother, father or other elderly relative – and one of the priorities for the Emirates Home Nursing team is to match the best resource with the client.
Says Dr Javed: “We allocate nurses primarily based on the case of the patient and the experience of the nurse. It’s important that the best care is delivered, so we want to assign the most qualified nurse for that individual’s care plan. This might mean assigning a nurse with experience in lifting and moving heavier patients, or experience providing care for an elderly patient suffering from a memory disorder such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.”
Professional skills ticked off, there is an equally important element in the matching of nurse to client. Says Dr Javed: “We also think about the personality of the patient and family members. Our nurses spend a lot of time with the patient, so it’s important that the personalities match on some level. Where possible, we consider personality, cultural backgrounds and language.”
The Emirates Home Nursing care team represent multiple nationalities, and with that comes language skills from Arabic to Hindi to Malayalam, with English spoken by every staff member. Another key factor is promoting independence, which means ensuring that the senior client feels as comfortable as possible at all times. “We want our elderly patients to feel supported and have a companion in their nurse,” she adds.
It’s a slightly different story when it comes to 24/7 care, with Dr Javed noting that in these situations, a rotating team of three nurses is assigned to each client. “It’s not productive to have nurses working for over 12 hours, they get tired and the quality of care is compromised so we rotate the nurses, but always deliver the same level of personalised care,” she says. Dedication is the foundation of the Emirates Home Nursing senior care offering from bedside activity to behind-the-scenes support, as Dr Javed explains: “With us, not only are they receiving the best quality of care available but they have access to a dedicated office support team.
“We have a great team of admin staff on the phones who handle all the booking requirements and changes. We also have a dedicated clinical manager who compiles an individual care plan for each senior client, and all progress notes are recorded in the same way a hospital would – on an app.”
In the event of deteriorating health and possible hospital admission, the Emirates Home Nursing team can pass on detailed medical and care records to the physicians, ensuring that everything is done to support the client even when they are out of their direct supervision.
With Dubai Health Authority also placing new impetus on engendering a culture of ‘healthy ageing’ so as to mitigate some of the issues associated with geriatric care in the future, Emirates Home Nursing is well aware of the most common conditions its clients are living with. “Within our elderly care clients, the most common issues we are dealing with are arthritis, osteoporosis, dementia/Alzheimer’s, hypertension, diabetes and loss of balance,” notes Dr Javed.
For its clients, and their relatives, the reassurance that the team’s expert levels of professional care extend across a full spectrum of life-affecting issues, is a major decision influencer when looking at potential providers.
Says Dr Javed: “When hiring our nurses, we look for individuals who have specialised in certain healthcare areas and have experience working on certain wards. With homecare for seniors in mind, we hire nurses that have worked on geriatric hospital wards or within an elderly nursing home.
“Under the term ‘geriatric’ there is a huge list of age-related healthcare issues. Dementia and Alzheimer’s can be a little more difficult to handle, and until the patient is used to the nurse it can be a little rocky establishing a relationship between the two. These diseases obviously cause huge personality shifts and it is important that the nurse not only has the physical skills of moving and handling an elderly patient, but the correct mind and skillset to handle the difficulties that come with caring for a dementia or Alzheimer’s sufferer.”
This dictates a highly personalised approach with the team creating personal care plans, tailored specifically to the senior’s ailments, with progress notes regularly recorded to ensure that the plan remains current. A dedicated GP, clinical manager and nursing supervisor manage the care plan and assigned team.
Respite care is another area where Emirates Home Nursing adds immeasurable value, allowing full-time family carers to take time out for the sake of their own health and wellbeing. Dr Javed elaborates: “Respite care can be from anything from one day to a month. It is physically and mentally draining to look after a patient or family member full time. Respite care allows the primary care giver to have that well-earned break and recharge.
“We have requests for respite care from people and families who don’t realise that that is what it’s called. It is something that should be promoted more, especially in this region.”
Emirates Home Nursing also offers support for those who may have relatives visiting, and need an extra caring hand. “Our services are not just available in the home setting, but also in and around Dubai and are mainly requested by Western expats. Promoting independence, our nurses accompany families as they explore Dubai or, if they are here for a wedding, for example, we provide a nurse to aid the senior family member, so that the rest of the family can enjoy the day confident that their loved one is cared for properly,” says Dr Javed.
And our families agree. Says a private client: ‘We have been using Emirates Nursing for several years and have found them to be professional, caring and adaptable in all respects. The admin team all take an interest in the care and welfare of their patients and their colleagues, and we have received excellent service and personal attention from the nurses right up to the general manager.
‘Their nurses are well trained and show great empathy for their patients even in the most challenging situations.’