Better alternatives to dementia village

I thank Senior Health Correspondent Salma Khalik for raising issues surrounding the planned "dementia village" (5 hard questions about the "dementia village" plan in Sembawang, July 25).

As a caregiver to my wife, who has advanced Parkinson's disease and dementia, I too have questions.

What are the objectives of such a village? What are its key performance indicators? Will it be affordable and who will it serve since only 25 per cent of residents will be subsidised? Will it be run like a business or a community service and how different is it going to be from a nursing home?

I do not think it is a feasible or good care option. It will be expensive, intended for those who are better off, and will not address the full range of needs of dementia patients.

I suggest better, cheaper and more targeted options.

The best and cheapest care for a dementia patient is in his own home, with targeted support from volunteer organisations or government agencies at subsidised cost. Each patient and family will have different needs, which can be obtained through surveys or phone interviews. Also consider if the household has members with other chronic illnesses.

Initiate or facilitate a "help-thy-neighbours" programme with the help of management or neighbourhood committees for residents in the same block, condominium or housing estate.

What are the objectives of such a village? What are its key performance indicators? Will it be affordable and who will it serve since only 25 per cent of residents will be subsidised? Will it be run like a business or a community service and how different is it going to be from a nursing home?

Dementia patients need hope and purpose in life, not anti-depressants or anti-psychotic medication. In my view, sending a loved one to a nursing home or dementia village should be the last resort even if one can afford it.

Seah Guan Hai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2019, with the headline 'Better alternatives to dementia village'. Print Edition | Subscribe