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Dealing with dementia

A caregiver shares her journey of caring for her mother, and how Changi General Hospital’s (CGH) person-centred care has helped her from hospital to home.

It was in late 2019 when Ms Rebecca Chang was told that her mother was diagnosed with dementia. “I was really taken aback, and felt completely lost,” she recalls. “I did not know what to expect and how to cope with her illness.”

Her mother was constantly in delirium and displayed behavioural symptoms during her stay at the CGH dementia ward. Hospitalised at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, she was unable to see her family members and felt distressed and moody.

To help her feel more at ease, the nurses set up video calls for Ms Chang and her mother, which helped reduce the latter’s stress levels. The care team also called Ms Chang regularly to provide updates. “I’m truly grateful for the efforts and care that the team at CGH provided,” Ms Chang shares.

Person-centred care

“I appreciated how CGH’s dementia ward provided a customised care programme for my mum and my family,” says Ms Chang. “The ward environment was very calming and relaxing, with a Reminiscence Corner where a variety of activities were organised to help keep her socially active with other patients.”

The care team ensured that Ms Chang’s mother had regular exercise through physiotherapy as well as sensory tree and music therapies, which her mother really enjoyed. CGH physiotherapists also provided detailed caregiver training for the family’s domestic helper to ensure that Ms Chang’s mother could continue to receive adequate care at home. “The care team has been patient, respectful, highly knowledgeable and extremely well-trained,” Ms Chang recounts.

Knowing that her mother’s condition would deteriorate over time, Ms Chang and her family made modifications at home to ensure her safety, including installing handrails, non-slip mats in toilets, and engaging an additional helper specially to take care of the older lady. They also bought walking aids and exercise equipment to help her mother strengthen her muscles.

CGH adopts a person-centred care (PCC) model in its dementia ward, providing individualised care plans that place an emphasis on a patient’s dignity and quality of life by considering his/her uniqueness, background, likes and dislikes, and needs. The individual patient is supported, enabled and facilitated in his/her care through shared decisionmaking, mutual respect and communication.

CGH’s PCC won the Dare to Do Award at the Public Sector Transformation Awards 2020.

Persons with dementia in CGH’s wards engaging in mentally-stimulating activities.

Continuum of care

Upon discharge, Ms Chang’s family was referred to the CGH Hospital-to-Home programme, where nurses visited them to follow up on care for Ms Chang’s mother at home. “The care team even provided our helper with additional care training,” says Ms Chang. “The CGH Hospital-to-Home care team truly cares for patients. This matters so much when it comes to providing the most personalised care for patients with dementia like my mum.”

Dealing with Dementia