Older Emirati patients can get quality care in live-in facilities that mimic home.
A medical home away from home for Emiratis
ABU DHABI // An occupational therapist helps her frail patient on to an exercise bike for his daily half-hour of physiotherapy.
Unable to move much on his own, the 63-year-old Emirati spends most of his day in a wheelchair hooked to a respirator after complications during an operation.
He has to blink to communicate. But he loves being in the sun, and his two wives and extensive family visit him daily at the ProVita residential care centre in Khalifa City.
His room, where he has lived for the past year, shows evidence of many visitors. Next to the sleeper couch, where family members can stay overnight, is a table laden with dates, chocolates and coffee.
For most patients, the centre is less of a hospital than a medical home away from home.
A senior staff nurse, Muhammad Najajreh, has known the man for several years.
"I am like his family," he said.
Mr Najajreh cracked jokes and the man blinked back at him in agreement, the corners of his mouth turned up in a smile.
Later, his wives arrived. They said they were happy with his care.
Like other family members, the man's son Tariq has a job and children to care for. "But that does not keep me from visiting my father and staying with him in the centre for many hours," he said.
The women sat chatting while he had his physical therapy, and appeared more comfortable than they would have been in a hospital waiting room.
If not for the equipment and the respirator, the exercise room could well have been an ordinary living room, decorated with cheery curtains and framed photos of the residents.
ProVita is one of a handful of residential care homes in the UAE, with facilities in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.
But as the population ages, there is likely to be an increased need for the services of care homes.
The company's chief executive, Andrew Escamilla, said the facilities supply "medical care while also providing a comfortable, homelike environment".
The centre's eight residents can visit their family homes weekly, decorate their own rooms and have a large area in which to pray. Nurses help the residents to the majlis at prayer times.
The centre even hosted a wedding ceremony so that one resident could witness his daughter's marriage.
Mr Najajreh said the condition of the man on the exercise bike was so severe that he would probably spend the rest of his life in care.
But there is no sadness in his voice. Home comforts, frequent visits from family, and friendly carers mean that residents can still enjoy their lives.
"It is hard on all the family members that my father is hospitalised, and we all want him back in our home as before," Tariq said. "But his medical condition does not allow us to bring him back home.
"His condition has improved psychologically, and ProVita provides an excellent care."
* With additional reporting by Asmaa Al Hameli