DUBAI // The Ministry of Health announced yesterday that it has expanded its home care programme to cater to the elderly.
The announcement follows a three-fold increase in the number of elderly people between 1995 and 2010.
Officials said the ministry has developed a comprehensive programme specifically for bed-bound patients who have been discharged from hospital, but still require some medical care.
A team of three nurses and a doctor offer periodic visits depending on the needs of each patient. They even train family members to involve them in their loved ones' care.
"This is more cost effective care and it minimises their stay in the hospital," said Dr Mohammad Amin, director of primary healthcare in Ras al Khaimah and director of the elderly home care program.
"Between 1995 and 2010, the percentage of elderly patients in the country increased threefold from 4.2 per cent in 1995 to 10.6 per cent in 2010, and in the year 2020, it is expected to reach around 20 per cent. So a fifth of the population will be composed of the elderly."
The ministry started the programme at Julfar Health Centre in Ras al Khaimah in December 2008. The first patient registered in February 2009. Two years later, the programme has 141 patients and over 2,000 visits have been made to patients in 12 areas of Ras al Khaimah.
A list of common diseases shows that a large percentage of the home care patients, aged 65 and over, suffer from hypertension, diabetes and arthritis.
"We just started covering a remote area of Ras al Khaimah called Al Munaei in February, and there are now nine patients in the home care program," said Dr Muna al Kuwar, director of the primary health care department at the Ministry of Health. "We are planning to open four new centres in Dubai, Ajman, Sharjah and Ras al Khaimah to provide care for the elderly in 2010... by May or June, the programme will be established at Al Aweer healthcare centre in Dubai."
Home care programmes are also being run in Umm al Qaiwain and Fujairah.