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Preserving the legacy of care
There’s a saying that goes if you live long enough, you will die.
As we age, the desire to be cared for lovingly and with respect in our golden years is something which all persons desire.
This is where Judy Ali and her brother Kazim Mohammed come in as the founders of the Rose Residential Care Home.
Located in Hope Road, Princes Town, Ali said their 100-bed facility acted as a stop-gap solution for professionals looking for a place to drop off their loved ones temporarily, or for live-in patients.
“People are coming to us to continue living, secure in the knowledge their rights and choices will be respected and human dignity afforded to them.” Ali said.
One of six qualified nurses in her family of eight, Ali, who lived and trained in the UK, spoke of her siblings’ burning desire to give back to the elderly in T&T.
Named after her mother Rose who passed away over 20 years ago, the Princes Town native with close to 40 years experience in the care profession, pointed out that the home was akin to a geriatric nursery.
She said, “We cater for persons who want to drop off their relatives before they go to work in the morning and pick them up in the evening on the way back home.”
“It is a 24-hour care facility which also functions as a day-care for persons who do not want to leave their loved ones in a home overnight.”
This she said, was a service which was “Absolutely well received by all who call us.”
In addition to meals and personalised care from highly trained professionals, Ali said the newly minted facility was designed for a variety of persons including those with early on-set Alzheimer’s; dementia; stroke patients; diabetics and accident victims with no one to care for them.
Ali noted that beyond the traditional offerings at senior citizens homes such as board games like ludo; snakes and ladders; bingo and dominoes, she and her team encouraged persons to exercise by walking, planting vegetables and gardening.
Along with specially appointed television rooms, Ali said the home also included radios strategically placed to ensure residents could hear music which it was hoped would create a “softer” environment for both patients and workers.
Adding that there was a reminiscent group for long-stay patients, Ali explained, “When a patient is admitted, we ask that they bring in photo albums which can help to jog a person’s memory. In this manner, we can try to keep them coherent and collective.”
Ali, a mother of one, said her family had experienced success in England where they operated a similar type facility.
Armed with the desire to make a difference locally, she and her siblings agreed to collectively foot the cost of constructing a similar facility in T&T.
Ali pointed out that the trepidation felt by those who could no longer, for whatever reasons, take care of seniors was understandable.
She said: “Loved ones have that guilt and feel like they are abandoning their people, but it also gives them that peace of mind that their loved ones can come to our place and be safe.”
She pointed out that careful attention was paid to the culinary requirements of patients who may be vegetarian; who do not eat beef/pork; and who may require special diets, and that the facility was open to seniors from all religious backgrounds.
Admitting that screening applicants and staff was a tedious process, Ali said that great attention was paid to the quality of workers to ensure there was no room for abuse to be meted out to the residents.
She said it was important to have staff, “who had a fire in their belly for this sort of work.”
“We are running a tight ship because we have heard so many horror stories about people being abused here. Morally and ethically, that is wrong. Our standard of care in England is world class and I hope to foster that here,” she said.
With a current staff count of 50, Ali said persons have been specially hired to cook, do laundry and clean in a bid to avoid cross-contamination and burn-out.
Ali added she was not averse to donning a uniform and working alongside her team who are banned from using cell phones while on duty except during designated breaks.
Pointing to the stringent rules she has introduced, she said, “Continuity, consistency and communication work hand-in-hand and will provide a package of care second to none around the country.”
Wanting to preserve their mother’s legacy, Ali said, “When we are dead and gone, we want this to be carried on. We are not doing it to become wealthy, but we want to keep the youths off the street and are offering employment for life to persons who so choose.”
Along with enhancing an individual’s personal development, she said, “It is a job they are getting paid to do, but they too will be giving back to so many who need it.”