A lion-hearted commitment to the care of senior citizens

Female residents doing their morning workout at the physiotherapy unit.

THE gentle cool breeze wafting in constantly through the open windows creates a refreshing atmosphere for some 80 residents at the Lions Nursing Home Kuching (LNHK).

The Home, built with an open concept in 1992, sits on three acres of land with serene surroundings conducive for geriatric care.

The Lions Nursing Home Kuching is the only nursing home to be managed by Lions Clubs in Malaysia, and over the past 25 years, kind-hearted ‘Lions’ have not stopped providing the best care to our aging citizens.

Hospitality

The Home, managed by Lions Nursing Home Kuching chairman, Datin Ellis Suriyati Omar, and 12 Lions Clubs from Kuching, Kota Samarahan and Serian, will continue to ensure the old folks are given the best nursing care.

“For 25 years, despite all the challenges, we have managed to keep the Home as hospitable as possible, and will continue to serve our elderly the best we can — with support from both the public and private sectors,” Ellis told thesundaypost.

“The 12 Lion Clubs and myself are working very hard to get the funding. We will continue to find ways to do this as we cannot rely on the fees alone.

“We need to pay our staff, maintain the Home and buy equipment to take care of our residents in accordance with Health Ministry regulations.”

Ellis said the Lions Nursing Home Kuching was built and donated by Tan Sri Ting Pek Khiing and the three acres of land were given by a donor called Diana Ibrahim.

“When we started, only four Lions Clubs managed the Home but now, there are 12. The management of the Home comes under the Lions while the daily operation is carried out by the staff, headed by a matron.”

The Lions Nursing Home Kuching is managed by 12 Lions Clubs from Kuching, Kota Samarahan and Serian.

The facilities

Currently, the home has 71 staff and 86 beds. When it started, there were 60 beds. Due to demand, another 26 were added — the maximum allowed by the Health Ministry.

There are two wards (male and female). The total population is 55 male and 25 female residents.

Ellis said most of the present residents have been diagnosed with senility and dementia and placed at the home by family members.

“These family members are also very caring. They always come over to see their ageing loved ones, bringing food and other things. The residents are put up here because the family members are working and there is no one to look after the old folks.”

Ellis, who was Lions Clubs International past international director, added that most of the residents are fine but some suffer from comorbid diseases like hypertension, diabetes and osteoporosis.

At the home, they are given proper care and family members do come and help nurse them.

She said from 1992 and up to July 2017, there had been 951 cases (total number of admissions) with an average of 38 per year.

According to her, the residents stay quite long — some until over 90 years of age.

“They can enter at age 50 on condition that they must not have mental disorders and contagious diseases. Most of those who come are quite old — between 70 and 80. And they stay until their dying day. Usually, family members come and take them home… to spend whatever time is left with them.”

Ellis said sick residents would see their personal doctors, adding, “Family members will come to pick them up — or we help send them to the hospital.”

On the type of nursing care at the home, she said the staff provide basic nursing care, rehabilitation and day-care services.

“In fact, we’re promoting day-care services, whereby family members can send their elderly parents or relatives here in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon.”

According to Ellis, the home charges RM50 per day for mobile cases — those able to move around on their own, and RM60 per day for immobile cases — those unable to move around on their own, both inclusive of meals.

The residents

She said there are three types of residents — very independent, semi-dependent and totally dependent such as being bedridden and having to be fed.

“The third category is handled differently,” she noted.

One of the residents’ favourite services is physiotherapy.

“We have physiotherapists to ensure the residents get enough exercise — and they love it,” Ellis said as she brought me to the physiotherapy unit to see how the physiotherapists were helping the residents with their daily exercise.

A retired civil servant in her 70s told me she loved the physio workout and couldn’t wait for the session to start.

She really has the zest for life and for her age is no barrier to what one wants to do and achieve.

The diet of the residents is closely monitored. They are given a balanced diet — plus enough minerals to sustain a healthy body.

Ellis said the home also provides laundry services where a very high standard of cleanliness and hygiene is practised.

Ellis Suriyati (seated) with the Lions members who help manage LNHK – Sim Kuang Boon (standing, left) and Cecil Adenan (standing, second left). With them are the matron Jane Ko Moi Hwa (standing, third right), the deputy matron Cecilia Lim and a staff member.

Future planning

A daunting challenge for the Lions who manage the home is the operation costs — staff emolument and maintenance of equipment and facilities and the like.

Ellis said financial assistance is needed to run the home as the monthly fees are not enough to offset the expenditure.

“But I will continue to look. I’m asking the government for a grant and also hoping the government will encourage the public and private sectors to help us.”

She hopes to find a new place for the home as the present area is getting very congested with new residential and high rise buildings.

“The home is engulfed by development of the city,” she noted.

“If no land, maybe we decide to put up a high rise building at the present site so that we have more room and space to provide geriatric care. We have to be ready as Malaysia will have a bigger ageing population by 2030.”

Ellis’ concern is shared by the matron Jane Ko Moi Hwa, who has been with the home for two years.

Ko, who  was matron at a government hospital, said they had to improvise and innovate to keep the facilities in top condition and also rely on public donations.

“We welcome help from the public and private sectors. At the same time, we will continue to endeavour to provide the best services and keep up with the ever changing trend in the medical care industry and the environment in the field of geriatric care.”

The Lions Nursing Home Kuching will celebrate its 25th anniversary on Oct 28.

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