Sneha Mandir Old Age Home … Goa, India
Tuesday, 15th May 2012
Today Shezmin and I visited Sneha Mandir, an Old Age Home …
there are no specific dementia care homes in Goa … which is run by the Goa Hindu Association Trust and has just celebrated its 30th anniversary. It is a secular institution, an NGO (Non Government Organisation) which is supported monetarily by members, donors and ‘well-wishers’ totalling some 2,500 in number.
The Home itself is situated outside the town of Ponda
in beautiful grounds and comprises twelve cottages - started off with just one in 1982 – with three or four shared bedrooms per cottage (some for married couples too) supported by a central block to encourage interaction and camaraderie amongst residents and make them feel part of an extended family.
The central block has a dining room with kitchens, two television rooms (one for men and one for women because generally men and women like to watch different things – have we thought of that???) a library and a lecture room plus of course wonderful gardens, even a waterfall (man made!).
In total there are 85 beds supported by 12 trained nurses (in white) and 12 Care Helpers (in blue) on a 24 hour rotation basis (3 batches of 4 nurses/4 care workers per shift) from 9am-6pm and 6pm-9am, with 6 days on and 1 day off each week. Over and above this there are 9 administrative staff plus 6 kitchen staff and a full-time gardener.
There is also a Geriatric Centre for bedridden patients (approximately half the beds at Sneha Mandir) with a physiotherapy and surgical centre (open also to non-residents in the area), a yoga instructor, a mobile clinic and ambulance service (serving 8 villages in the area) as well as a Home Nursing School (funded by the Goa Government) which provides free education to 20 nursing students a year, on the proviso that their practical training is done at the Complex.
I thought the most interesting innovation was how the community is encouraged to interact with the Complex. The Complex supports the community e.g. by adopting children in high school (at present 100 students) and providing them with books, uniforms, fees etc as well as tuition and guidance in various academic fields. If any of the students show potential for further study, that further expenditure is met by the Trust.
In turn students spend a lot of time with the residents. They become the family who is not there. In fact when we visited, there were a group of 5 or 6 young people simply ‘visiting’. It was so good to see! Music groups, clubs, voluntary groups, dance groups etc are also encouraged to ‘visit’ and people doing interesting stuff often offer or are invited to lecture to the residents … all in an effort to make a family environment and a busy day for residents.
Another interesting aspect is that all the residents are encouraged to use their skills e.g. if they used to cook, they are welcome in the kitchens; if a resident was an engineer and something has broken, he is first port of call; gardeners help the gardener and managers or clerical staff even help in the admin section: residents are made to feel useful and part of a family.
Indeed their motto is ‘home away from home’. In India children by law are required to look after their parents and so the only reason elderly people need a shelter like Sneha Mandir is because:
- Their children are working/living abroad (and when the families return, more often than not, the elders go back home)
- The resident is unmarried and has no children
- The children have abandoned the parents, but in thirty years, this has not once ever been the reason for admission.
Shezmin and I have been invited to stay at Sneha Mandir this weekend …
Let us know what you think – contact us now Thanks!