Article & Image Source – DailyFT
- Hand-picks multidisciplinary team of health experts in geriatrics made available under one roof
Sri Lanka is experiencing faster ageing of its population than any other country in the world. It will have the third oldest population in Asia by the year 2025 and will be the only non-high-income country in the world with an elderly population of more than 20-25%. These facts were shared by Ceylinco Life Chairman R. Renganathan recently as he drew attention towards the country’s ageing population and lack of awareness surrounding it.
“One in four Sri Lankans will be elderly by the year 2041. Definition of elderly: 60 and over. It is estimated that by 2050 Sri Lanka will have a population where 50% will be over the age of 50 years. The elderly population in Sri Lanka currently is 12.4%,” he noted.
Sri Lanka’s fast-ageing population has long required a centre that caters to the healthcare needs of the elderly – one that provides a multi-disciplinary health system consisting of facilities and a team that is focussed on geriatric treatment – all made available under one roof.
Noting this dire need, Ceylinco Healthcare has hand-picked a team of specialists in geriatric care and officially launched the ‘Ceylinco Assured Care Centre’ recently. Renganathan speaking at the event added that caring for the elderly has been in their thoughts for many years, and with the support of a team that is passionate about this cause, it has now been delivered.
Consultant Geriatric Physician Dr. Dilhar Samaraweera, who is also the Founder President of Sri Lanka Association of Geriatric Medicine (SLAGM), takes pride in the fact that they were opening the first multi-disciplinary elderly care centre in the private sector. “All this time we’ve had services and channelling centres of senior citizens, but we’ve never had a centre which provides comprehensive assessment and care with involvement of a multidisciplinary team – and that’s the concept of this unit – to provide comprehensive care for the elderly.”
“We cater to the elderly who are very weak – physically, psychologically, socially; but they need a holistic approach. We offer geriatric medicine – which is speciality medicine that deals with treatment and prevention of disease in the older population. The practice of geriatric medicine shifts away from a ‘disease-centred’ to a ‘person-centred’ approach.
“The elderly patients suffer from multiple diseases, and have specific syndromes which result in the limiting of activities of daily living; we call them ‘geriatric’; which include decreased mobility, instability, being frail, have the risk of falls, incontinence, dementia, and depression. These geriatric syndromes are easily missed in a routine assessment; this happens even in the wards – whether in the Government or private wards because we never think about their depression scales or their complicated scales.
“Often when people are admitted and then discharged, we don’t look to see if they are even able to walk back home; sometimes they are carried by their relatives – they are not stable to function in their homes. These assessments are therefore vital. Wherever we work, as medical professionals, whether in the public or private sector, we need to be knowledgeable about the outcome of the elderly who have many different diseases.
This could only be done by a complete assessment which can only be done by a multi-disciplinary team led by consultant physicians specialising in geriatric medicine and that is what we are going to provide in this centre.
“The elderly population also has problems with access to healthcare; fragmented health services provided in an incoherent manner is not the way to deal with an elderly patient.” He mentioned the way it usually takes place: A patient meets a physician, who then refers him to another specialist, such as a physiotherapist, and then the physiotherapist may write a note to meet another specialist, and it goes on that way and they just get lost in the system. “It should be an interconnected system with interdisciplinary team management under one roof. That is the concept we have developed in this centre,” he said.
“The care should be co-ordinated until the maximum outcome ultimately results in patient satisfaction under one roof. Ceylinco Assured Care Centre is the only private centre in the country – no other centre has the facilities and resources to assess the patient in multiple domains, including physical, sensory, cognitive, environmental and social areas, with the expertise of professionals in multi-disciplines,” he asserted.
Dr. Samaraweera added that though the elderly refers to people who are above 60 years of age, many people of that age are still healthy and independent. Therefore, they cater to two groups – the elderly who are weak and need assistance – as well as the elderly who are healthy but can benefit from guidance to promote healthy ageing.
He says you don’t have to wait till you’re 60 years old to assess yourself and prepare for a successful silver age. A healthy lifestyle, exercise and diet are essential for successful ageing; plus the centre also offers pre-retirement counselling. He urges the public to visit the Centre before reaching 60 and receive a good assessment followed by guidance to age gracefully.
Another feature of Ceylinco Assured Care Centre is it provides membership, and by doing so it gives assurance that it will be with you throughout your life course. Renganathan launched the Ceylinco Assured Care membership card at the event.
Specialist training centre for geriatrics
SLAGM Founder and Consultant Rheumatologist Dr. Lalith Wijayaratne, describing the events that led to the development of elderly care by geriatrics and how it evolved to its present state in Sri Lanka, said that years ago, a few consultant physicians had made efforts to tackle the lacking elderly care situation by developing the health sector to fulfil the demands of the growing elderly population. They attempted to establish geriatric wards in state hospitals but sadly despite their enthusiasm, could not fulfil their aspirations; thereafter for many years there was no progress in elderly care other than workshops and yearly lectures to create an awareness of elderly care among doctors.
Dr. Wijayaratne, along with other medical professionals involved in the study of geriatric medicine, persistently sought to initiate a specialist training centre in geriatrics and their pursuit had been a long one. “Finally, following our desperate requests, the ministries of health and higher education gave the approval to set up a speciality board of study in geriatric medicine at the Post Graduate Institute of Medicine,” he said.
Another milestone was when the SLAGM was launched in 2014 to cater to the needs of staff involved in geriatric care, supporting and coordinating activities among the specialists in this field in a well-planned manner.
Given this background of the evolution of elderly care in Sri Lanka, he said, “I see that the timely launch of the Ceylinco Assured Care Centre adds another bud to the growing tree of geriatric medicine that has been growing steadily for the past 25 years. I have no doubt that this unit will fulfil all the healthcare needs of our elderly patients.”
La Serena – a resort that’s home
Renganathan then highlighted that Ceylinco Life had opened a retirement resort more than a decade ago for elderly residents, but the project did not succeed due to the fact that the extended family concept was still very strong.
“We realised that it was time to rethink and restart the project. We refurbished La Serena resorts and opened it to independent living. We then realised that if one was independent, he or she would like to live in their own home and familiar surroundings. So we decided to enhance the facilities at La Serena to accommodate low-level assisted care and high-level assisted care. We are now having a flow of applicants,” he said.
Its ‘assisted living care’ comprises ‘assisted living’ and ‘assisted living with a caregiver’. Assisted living involves specialised assisted living for elders who are independent yet require assistive devices such as ramps and grab bars. Assisted living with a caregiver involves a carefully monitored high-level assisted package for the resident with mobility issues and require the help of a caregiver for daily living.
A cutting-edge independent living facility established and managed by Ceylinco Life, La Serena is a unique specialised feature that is focussed on the treatment of the elderly (above 60 years). Sri Lanka’s first retirement resort, La Serena provides a range of facilities which include a library with a wide selection of books, and a recreation room to relax with pool, chess, scrabble, and carrom. For the more active there are beach-side activities, jogging and walking paths, a fully-equipped gymnasium and a swimming pool.
There is a restaurant serving delightful cuisine, and a guest house to entertain friends and family. It also provides parking and transport facilities, and 24-hour security is ensured with CCTV coverage throughout the resort. At the moment, he said, 44 private units are available for residential care, with plans to expand.
Pix by Lasantha Kumara
You may find the below posts useful if you believe you learned something from this article: