The Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) has affirmed its keenness to provide the best health services and primary care to older persons, while continuously developing these services in line with their needs and in accordance with the highest international quality standards, all while stressing on the fact that the care for and provision of health services to older persons remains on top of its priorities.
Dr. Ameera Al Khuzaei, Assistant Director of the Northern Region at PHCC, explained that the corporation is playing a leading and effective role by providing unique and outstanding services for older persons through memory clinics available in some health centers or by conducting daily home visits by the corporation's medical teams to older persons. In addition to providing health awareness and education services through contacting this age group by telephone, especially at the current stage, to ensure that they have all the right information to prevent COVID-19 infection, and that they are in perfect health, as well as identifying their psychological, health, and social needs, and facilitating assistance or medical or mental consultation delivery.
Dr. Al Khuzaei said, “since the launch of its memory clinics as part of the Healthy Older Persons Service in 2019, PHCC has proven that it provided an important service to many older persons and their families and care providers across Qatar.”
She added that doctors at PHCC are working with a team of psychiatrists and occupational health therapists at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) to provide comprehensive assessment and specialized care for people aged 60 years and above who most probably suffer from memory problems, noting that memory clinics are available in three health centers: Al Wajba, Leabaib, and Rawdat Al Khail.
Dr. Al Khuzaei revealed that PHCC is monitoring older persons' health matters remotely, especially those aged over 65, to ensure that they do not visit health centers, as they were given priority in terms of providing telephone consultations, to monitor their health condition and offer them the necessary support without risking their lives.
She also stressed on PHCC's keenness to follow up on the daily reports issued by all health centers to clarify the number of patients' visits and telephone consultations, in addition to registering any cases infected, following them up, and reporting them to the relevant authorities.
Dr. Al Khuzaei clarified that PHCC provided some services to ensure that the elderly do not come to health centers, to ensure their safety and reduce the chances of their being infected with COVID-19, such as the Medication Home Delivery Service.
She indicated that the physiotherapy services at PHCC are available in 11 of its health centers, in addition to providing these services at home by organizing physical activity sessions according to the needs of older persons in their homes. Furthermore, the corporation provides health education sessions appropriate for older persons and their family members and care providers. The corporation also provides wellness programs for adults and older persons who are self-reliant to enjoy their well-being and good health.
Health and Wellness programs include exercising in the gyms and adopting a healthy eating habit suitable for their age and health condition at the lifestyle clinic. There are also within the wellness programs specialized clinics to quit smoking, which provide medical consultations and medicines that help quit smoking and prevent or reduce chronic diseases.
Dr. Al Khuzaei listed a range of services provided by PHCC's early screening program for the elderly, including the early detection of several types of cancer, such as breast, bowel, and cervical cancer. The early breast cancer detection service is provided to women aged between 45-69 years, while the early bowel cancer detection service is provided to men and women aged between 50-74 years, in Leabaib, Al Waab, and Al Wakra health centers. In addition to the mobile early screening unit supplied with state-of-the-art equipment that ensures complete privacy for patients. Besides its support for the use of wheelchairs to serve older persons.
Early detection of cervical cancer is also provided to married women aged between 21-64 years in all health centers. In addition to the program’s interest in educating the community and raising awareness of cancers and ways of prevention, and how to maintain health and follow a permanent healthy lifestyle, on various events and forums, such as World Cancer Day and Breast or Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and other international events.
Dr. Al Khuzaei stated that PHCC provides the Home Health Care Service, noting that this service is constantly witnessing a great growth and an increasing demand due to the increasing number of older persons and the great role of this service in terms of promoting a healthy lifestyle for older persons at home and improving their quality of life.
Home Health Care Services are provided to housebound Qataris aged 60 years and above with a comprehensive medical team, emphasizing the corporation's constant endeavor to develop services in line with the community’s needs by raising health awareness and reaffirming commitment to precautionary measures, especially among this age group who have the greatest need for health care, given that they suffer from many diseases and health problems.
The medical team also urges patients and their families to take the COVID-19 vaccine, explains its importance for their health, follows up on their dosing schedule, and sends reminders to them.
Through visits, feedback is periodically obtained from patients and their family members to measure their satisfaction level towards services provided by conducting a periodic survey, through which information and feedback are collected and analyzed to improve the quality of services in line with the regulations and laws of the corporation.
Dr. Al Khuzaei said that PHCC is organizing a series of events on the occasion of the International Day for Older Persons, held on October 1 every year. PHCC has a constant motivation to celebrate this day by organizing unique programs and events in an unconventional way, stressing that this year, given the current circumstances of COVID-19 crisis, care will be taken to educate families who have older persons, to protect them from age-related diseases and how to provide them with optimal care.
She also mentioned a series of awareness messages that will be focused on in the celebration of the International Day for Older Persons for this year 2021, which cover the importance of simple physical exercising for older persons that greatly help to prevent diseases and avoid joint pain and rheumatism, and the need to make the elderly sense the importance of their presence in the lives of those around them. This will enhance their mental health and their integration into the family and society. In addition to emphasizing the importance of eating healthy and balanced meals for older persons on regular basis to meet their bodies' need for important nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, and the importance of getting enough sleep and rest.
To protect the elderly from COVID-19 infection, family members should prevent them from attending family gatherings and visits, help them keep a safe distance, and avoid physical contact, such as shaking hands, while stressing on the older persons' mental health and considering the psychological changes they are going through.