WISDOM CENTER-TRANSITIONAL CENTRE FOR THE OLDER PERSONS
Over the years with our work with and for older persons, we have found that that the majority of older persons are lonely, have no active engagement, poor and have ill-health. However, some are retired teachers, health workers, cartographers and business people. Our experience aligns with a study by Nzabona, et al (2015) which found that approximately seven in ten older persons, especially in urban areas, had feelings of loneliness. The same study also indicated that the absence of a television and pension benefits as well as the prevalence of limb joint ill-health predicted loneliness due to the insecurities of old age. The findings of this study have critical implications and clarify the need for the development of age-friendly urban centers and developing social centres for older persons.
HENU has acquired Land and is in the process of constructing an Intergenerational Wisdom Centre that will offer the following opportunities;
- To offer an opportunity for older persons to come together and socialize
- To provide a safe environment for older persons to share information, skills and knowledge.
- To help older persons to fellowship together and manage the feelings of loneliness.
- To offer intergenerational training opportunities for older persons, their carers and orphans under the care of older person
Uganda is a low-income country with 35 million people (UBOS, 2014). The fertility rate in Uganda has declined slightly from 7.06% in 1990-1995 to 6.38% in 2005-2010 and 5.91% in 2010-2015 (UN, 2015b, WorldBank, 2015). With the world wide decrease in mortality rates, the Ugandan mortality rates have also decreased from 109.9 in 1990-1995, to 61.2 in 2010-201. The rates are projected to decline further to 14.9 by 2100 (UN, 2015b). With the improvement of living conditions, reduced mortality and fewer births, it is implied that there will be an increase in life expectancy and the number of people living longer and consequently an increase in the number of older persons (HelpAge, 2013).
Evidence of increasing numbers of older persons can be found with Wandera et al (2015) whose findings indicate that the population of those who are 60 years and older has increased from 4.5% in 2002 to 4.7% in 2010 and is projected to increase to 5.7% by 2050. The United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (2015) projects the population in Uganda aged 60+ to be 3.9% in 2015, 6% in 2050 and 20.7% in 2100. Uganda is therefore a country that is in need of critical sustainable planning and resources for the welfare and care of older persons.
With the weakening of traditional models of care and support for older persons in the Ugandan communities (Najjumba-Mulindwa, 2005), older persons are continually being viewed as burdensome recipients of care as opposed to contributors to the community. The low income status of Uganda does not provide a cushion for the care and support of older persons as they leave the workforce. This is regardless of the fact that they are still saddled with the responsibility of caring for the younger generations even in their old age. As a result many older persons are carrying on the burden of care even in their old age and yet are left to fend for the selves without the support of the system or the communities. The needs of older persons may include, but are not limited to, a need to increase support and resource allocation for the care needs of an ageing population like healthcare services, pensions and other social protection mechanisms to enable older persons to live a healthy dignified life (HelpAge, 2013).
This gap in care and support of older persons justifies the need to specifically direct resources to planning and implementation of targeted programs for older persons in Uganda. Therefore, as we celebrate the successes of living and care conditions in Uganda, it is imperative that we take a long term view on the care of our growing population of older persons.
Space Planning and Layout for Wisdom Center
The Wisdom Centre will have four wings (sections) named after people who will have greatly contributed to the centre in appreciation for the support and generosity. The centre will also seek to provide services for the surrounding community which will include a play area for children, a play, music and rest room for infants and young children as well as a counselling area to address different challenges facing members of the community.
The centre will be partitioned as follows, the General Health care facility, Assisted Living, Mental Health/Dementia, Administration Block and a multi-purpose hall that connects them all as seen in Figure 1 below:
Figure 1: Concept Diagram showing the space plan for Wisdom Center
Brief description of the Functions of each section
The hall will provide space for older persons to engage in various activities that enable community engagement and are also part of their daily living. The activities and services provided will include;
- Training and skill building for older persons
- Fellowship, meetings, parties and workshops for older persons
- Knowledge sharing with orphans and children in the care of older person
- Income generation through a shop (Kupan) where wares and crafts made by older persons will be sold
- Television to keep abreast with current affairs and educational materials
- A kitchen for meal preparation or cooking activities for older persons and those in their care
- A laundry, janitorial services and general housekeeping for older persons residing at the centre
General Health Section
In a study carried out to find out what determines an older person’s accessibility to healthcare in Uganda, it was concluded that health need factors like seriousness of an illness and affordability were vital to determining accessibility to healthcare (Wandera, Kwagala & Ntozi, 2015). Because many older persons cannot afford the medical expenses for their care, the Wisdom Centre will come in to provide support in the following areas;
- Management of basic health concerns presented by older persons
- Utilisation of in house resources like retired health workers to provide services to older persons and give experienced older persons a chance to continue practicing their skills under the supervision of a practicing doctor.
- Provision of Counselling and basic physiotherapy and rehabilitation services, as well as consultation services for older persons requiring outpatient care after incidences of surgery..
Assisted Living Section
With the decline of the traditional models of care (Najjumba-Mulindwa, 2005) there is an increasing number of older persons living alone and an increase on deaths at home. To curb this problem the centre will provide several assisted living services to support older persons who are unable to support themselves or live alone;
- ‘Day care’ services for older persons in need of a few hours of companionship, monitored and supervised treatment intake.
- Assisted utilisation of facilities like toilets, bathrooms and stairs.
- A transition facility for older persons on travel or enroute to other destinations.
Family reconnection services for those in search of their families
Mental Health/Dementia Section
Taking care of mentally ill older persons is increasingly becoming a challenge especially for family members. This is because instead of trying to understand the mental illness, many of these caregivers are ashamed of it (Kyaddondo, n.d.). Worse still is many of the mentally ill older persons have not been given enough attention and many of the victims do not report their illness to the health centres (Kyaddondo, n.d.). The centre will provide support to those suffering from mental health issues and to their support persons in the following ways;
- Collaborate with government hospitals to assess the mental health of some older persons presenting with signs and symptoms.
- Identify physical or surgical conditions can easily complicate a mental illness that went undetected and would have been treated in the early stages
- Utilisation of our retired health workers and visiting psychiatrists to conduct mental health assessments and consultations for management and referral by doctors.
- Provision of services to older persons diagnosed with Dementia. Staff will endeavour to pay close attention to these older persons as they could wonder off while going about their daily routine.
This section will be responsible for day-to-day activities of the centre i.e. scheduling appointments, visitations and community events It is also from this section that the centre liaisons between the older persons and their families in terms of ensuring that the well-fare of older persons is catered for.
What do we require?
We have identified land valued at 24 million Uganda shillings. We plan to construct the centre in three phases:
- 1st Phase – construct the Multi-purpose Hall and the General Health Section
- 2nd Phan – construct Assisted Living and Mental Health Sections.
- 3rd Phase – construct the Administrative Section.
Facility equipment like medical supplies, Physical therapy equipment, furniture and appliances for the self-contained rooms in the assisted living section, vehicles for transportation of older persons to hospitals, work and other activities. The centre will also need a furniture and cooking equipment for the kitchen and dining areas.