Brunei’s efforts in dementia-related work lauded

Azlan Othman

Brunei Darussalam recently took part in the three-day Dementia Forum X after being invited by Swedish Care International.

Speaking on the forum, demensia Brunei (dB) Honorary Adviser Datin Jacqueline Wong said she was honoured to have represented dB and noted that Brunei Darussalam was in good standing at the global event.

The proceedings were graced by Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden and leaders in the expertise fields.

Queen Silvia said it is more important now than ever that we come together collectively to address the challenges of dementia and other cognitive decline diseases.

Queen Silvia’s mother and brother had Alzheimer’s. She became involved in Alzheimer’s research and established the Silviahemmet foundation in 1996 which trains professionals how to treat Alzheimer’s and other dementia diseases. She was awarded Alzheimer’s Disease International’s (ADI) Honorary Ambassador for her commitment to both end-of-life care and the elderly.

Meanwhile, Sophie from Swedish Care International lauded Brunei Darussalam and Datin Jacqueline for dynamic comments and constructive engagement, while also commenting that her perspective on Brunei is unique.

Datin Jacqueline said building local capacity and capabilities to support and care for our own are crucial especially in low and middle income countries (LMICs).

In many countries, nursing and care homes are not enough to meet the growing demand and numbers of older people and people with dementia. There is no nursing or care home in Brunei and families are responsible to care for our elderly.

She added that dB conducts a two-day dementia care skills (DCS) training course to carers, healthcare workers and allied professionals to better understand, manage and care for persons with dementia.

“At the same time, we also stress respite for the carer. From these workshops, some participants are selected to go through a five-day intensive Train-The-Trainer Programme to be Lead DCS Trainers to support those next in line. The training together with carers’ experience is invaluable.”

She added that the lack of awareness, resources and support places an enormous burden on informal carers such as women and young carers. In particular, young carers have little knowledge on care, where to seek support and fewer resources to understand how to deal with the challenging behaviours. They need the resources and support to manage and cope. Some are missing out on school and growing up.

The challenges and issues they face are emerging and will become or have become economic and social issues exacerbated by COVID-19.

“Women are not only carers. They also are more likely to face greater prevalence of dementia as well and the symptoms they live with are often more severe.

“To date, there are 33 national dementia plans. From this, only 12 have taken into consideration the needs of women in their commitments. We urge the 160 countries who have yet to formulate plans to include women. Women make up over half the world’s population. We cannot continue to leave women behind.”

“It is sad to hear of the deaths of senior citizens in nursing and care homes. While there is still no cure for dementia, the understanding, providing quality care and managing the disease have been effective. In Brunei, we do not have nursing or care homes. The family is responsible for caring for our elderly and people with dementia.”

Thus, she highlighted that dementia care skills training are important, and added that taking the word ‘dementia’ out of DCS still leaves ‘care skills’ training to provide better care for older persons (and the unwell).

“We are looking at providing training to at least one person in the family unit,” she said.

Datin Jacqueline also shared, “I received positive feedback on Brunei’s efforts in support for elderly and dementia care. The experience was insightful, an honour and a privilege. There’s still much to learn and to do for the community – locally, regional and global, even more now with the prolonged COVID-19 situation.”

She affirmed that dB will continue to highlight the need for a national dementia action plan and added that the world is far behind World Health Organization targets.