Dementia society moves into new premises
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo has pledged his government’s full support for the Gibraltar Alzheimer’s and Dementia Society initiative to make Gibraltar a Dementia Friendly Community in the next few years.
Speaking at the opening of the new GADS premises at the Old Naval Hospital complex, where he unveiled a plaque in the presence of Health Minister Neil Costa, GADS committee members, health professionals and friends of the society, Mr Picardo said he would personally enrol in the programme himself.
His government over the past six years, he insisted, had “completely revolutionised the way we look after people with Alzheimer’s and dementia”.
The new complex at the old Naval Hospital, he said, which now houses Ocean Views, Bella Vista Day Care Centre and Hillsides Residential, was “a new way of doing things”.
Mr Picardo emphasised that one of the things that went unnoticed “because it is just a number” had been the cost of domiciliary care, which in six years had gone from “£600,000 to approximately £3m”.
“It is true that a community the size of Gibraltar has a disproportionate number of people suffering from early stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia as well, and the facilities that we have already may not be able to cater for everybody,” he said.
“One of the things that we need to do is keep people at home for as long as possible and ensure they have the ability to come to a day centre, and that we understand how we can help them at home.”
GADS chairperson Daphne Alcantara, in welcoming “the excellent facilities” now available in the new complex and their newly opened premises, also emphasised that those living in their own homes could not be forgotten.
GADS, she said, needed to continue working with Government to make available services and resources to people in their homes.
“We have gone a long way in the last few years… there was absolutely nothing, but there is still a lot to do. We have excellent facilities here and to date we have only heard good comments but we need to remember that there are many people living at home and we cannot forget them,” she added.
She described the new GADS House as an “open house” where people can share their concerns.
“We want people to feel that they are not alone.”
With some 500 people diagnosed with dementia living in Gibraltar, the Chief Minister spoke of the value “not just in the revolution of the care we have brought about for those with Alzheimer’s and Dementia” but the value of education in the community of what Alzheimer’s and Dementia which cannot be under stated.
“This was why Gibraltar needs to go that extra mile,” he insisted, and everyone needed to understand what everyone could do if they come across somebody with Alzheimer’s and dementia, whether on the bus, in a café or on the street.
Those who have helped bring these facilities about should have their place and their home within the complex, he said.
“I am very happy that with all the professionals involved in creating and manning this facility they have been able to maintain the commitment that we had to GADS to find them a home here but it is also true that this complex would not be what it is without the work of GADS as a whole has done in kitting out and raising funds from so many local entities,” he said.
Health Minister Neil Costa spoke of GADS carrying out a critically important function with the families of people living with dementia, which they discharge with admirable passion and commitment.
“The comfort that they give to the relatives of those that live with Alzheimer’s and Dementia is commendable. The health of our community and the care of its most vulnerable members is one of the pivotal points of government. We have led an unprecedented expansion of medical services in Gibraltar, introducing a whole series of new specialised clinical disciplines, improving professional care across all sectors and investing in staffing and material resources to achieve the type of health service that Gibraltar deserves. We have also repatriated those medical services we felt could be delivered locally to save the expense and added stress to patients of having to travel abroad,” he said.