Jul 29, 2021 In the Press
Dubai’s game-changing project for the elderly

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

A first-in-the-region and Europe 250-bed medical facility that will also be a haven for the ageing population has been envisioned to rise within the Phase 2 complex of the 20-million square feet (sqft) Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) in Umm Hurair 2, Dubai.

A Memorandum of Understanding for the projected Dhs650-million undertaking was signed between Dubai Healthcare City Authority (DHCCA) chief executive officer Jamal Abdul Salam and Vita chairman Abdullah Al Gurg on Sunday morning. Venue was the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences, within the free zone.

From the press conference that immediately followed the signing ceremonies, both Salam and Al Gurg said the project aims at making Dubai a hub for world-class geriatric care, whereby all the needs of the elderly – from the sexagenarians to the centenarians, whether locals, expatriates, residents or tourists – are comprehensively met by a multi-disciplinary team of 850 employees. Construction was projected to commence in 2022 with full operations targeted at two years later or in 2024.

In answer to Gulf Today on how the initiative came about, Al Gurg said Vita Comprehensive Elderly Care-Centre for Excellence in Geriatric Services was first and foremost organised so that a “new platform” serving the elderly is made available. Like the unborn and the young generations, the 60-year-old and above must also have to be succoured and taken care of in the best way possible: “We (scouted around) for the best partner and we chose Dubai Healthcare City for its location, accessibility, and the support (it derives from the government, authorities and other stakeholders).”

The facility shall occupy 550,000 sqft of land “by the lagoon” in Phase 2 of the DHCC. Out of the 250-bed capacity, 80 beds are for the elderly stricken with all forms of dementia that impact on memory, daily basic functions, and communication capability, the commonest of which is Alzheimer’s Disease. Seventy beds are for the ventilated-assisted patients. There shall be 70 intensive care units. Apart from the long-term patients, expected to be served on a short-time basis at any given time are 1,000.

Not just a comprehensive hospital, the facility was conceptualised – akin to a home-for-the-aged, a day-care centre. The elderly may be a regular daily visitor who may voluntarily enlist or get enrolled in by families or friends to participate in entertainment and other activities that would spurt or ignite their physical, social emotional and spiritual wellness.

Moreover, the services shall be uninterrupted as home care and tele-medicine shall be provided for those determined by their doctors to be discharged as they could be well taken care of and looked after right in the comfort of their homes by their families or friends.

According to Al Gurg, it was in 2020 when the Dubai-based healthcare investment company conducted a research among 300 Emirati and expatriate residents. The conclusion was that a huge number of the ageing population across the country are “under-served” because it is a normal family decision to keep and personally take care of them within the confines of their homes.

Al Gurg said Vita management is in negotiations with the Dubai Health Authority, when one of the questions raised concerns over the existing restrictive health insurance policies for the elderly and how the novel all-inclusive hospital-cum-daycare centre seeks to alleviate them of their woes: “We have an offering for the (DHA). This issue is regulatory.”

Vita general manager Sarper Tanli said the company is also on the table with international health insurers to help remedy the situation in favour of the elderly.

A UAE long-time resident shared with this reporter that “for individuals above age 60, the insurance range is between Dhs45,000 and Dhs48,000 per year if, with pre-existing conditions like diabetes and hypertension. My out-of-pocket in the past few years has been Dhs6,000 per year including consultations, diagnostics and medicines while it has been Dhs3,000 per year for my wife.”

On the sidelines, two guests at the MoU signing welcomed and praised the DHCCA-Vita partnership. They said the concept is a relief because basically among Asians and Arabs, sending elderly family members off to the homes-for-the-aged are “taboo.”

One of them said the project is a game-changer and a new mind-setter.

Source : https://www.gulftoday.ae/news/2021/08/29/dubai-game-changing-project-for-the-elderly