Pragmatic approach to establish “Home for the Aged” on self-help basis

  • Daw Myint Myint Kyi
    (Wachet Hospital)

As my age edges over (70) years, I feel the pulse of “getting old”. Therefore, all the chilling thoughts on ageing have rush into my head, prompting me in finding possible solution for the simple living of older persons among my friends, including myself. In this connection, I sought ideas from Dhamma friends in our circle of Wachet Sangha Hospital Committee, especially with the Vice Chairwoman and Financial Secretary of the Lower Myanmar EC.

The idea for establishing “Home for the Aged” addition with nurse aid on manageable scale came up while visiting an orchid garden named “Thit Sar Minn” owned by Dhamma friends in Yangon. The owner of orchid garden asked me over the phone that she was desirous to donate Kyats (0.6) million for the Eternal Fund in addition to her earlier credit of Kyats (0.5) million. In fact, I went there to compliment one CD disk on the merit sharing ceremony event of Wachet Hospital Eternal Fund that hits Kyats (700) million.
While talking motley assortments of Dhamma topics, one of the hosts of the orchid garden asked me whether we have any vacant land in Wachet area on the Sagaing Hills. I told them that we have some empty spaces of land, but the new Hospital Annexe with the name of Shwe Mann Ratana has been recently commissioned, fulfilling the required accommodation for the patients. I responded to give a reply about vacant land after getting more information from the Chairman of Upper Myanmar EC in Sagaing.
Subsequently, I was informed over the telephone by the Chairman of Upper Myanmar that Wachet Hospital in Sagaing Hills has adequate premises for the patients, but donations of cash for the Wachet Eternal Fund is warmly welcomed as this fund truly contributes monthly interest from the bank in functioning the day to day tasks. Immediately, I relayed the message to the intended well wishers of the orchid garden in Yangon.
This article is intended for the pragmatic approach to establish “Home for the Aged” with nurse aid on self-help basis coming out from a beautiful orchid garden. In other words, it is a small project for the ageing persons.
My beloved mother is over (90) years and I am very happy to be with her under the same roof. As an ageing old woman, she talks aimlessly on pointless subjects. However, when angry, she responded with sharp tongue with loud and clear voice. A young man is a household member staying with us for more than one decade, who softly teases my old mother from time to time, for that, my mother shoots back with spiky words like machine gun. Due to ageing, we have to feed, bath and assist her in most of the movements. She is feeble without an aide. Ageing makes life difficult. Older persons in the age bracket of (80) and (90) are facing trouble in their moment to moment mobility. A few older persons, who spend their whole life in a proper way in accordance with the teaching of Dhamma, need no assistance in their daily activities. These older persons are, in fact, rare human species in our country.
The author of this article has just entered the age of (72). Instant care is always in my head even in climbing up and stepping down from a stairway at home and elsewhere. Especially at Super Markets and Malls, the writer is to be careful looking at the shining floor tiles whether they tend to be slippery, with a worrisome sensation. Ascending and descending through an escalator, cautious feeling is always on my mind. Despite a spectacle is placed before my eyes, the vision is not yet perfect. Still, the writer manages in maintaining the budget and accountings of the Wachet Jivitadana Sangha Hospital in Sagaing Hills. However, my keen interest in the accountings is sliding down. As a matter of fact, the huge task of statistics has been allocated to junior committee members and asked them to put up only delicate matters to my desk. Passing the line of the age (72), the author is uncertain on the bumpy path of aging. The age has just edge over the line of elderly and enters into illness and infirmity. Therefore, the dreamy idea of establishing “Home for the Aged” with nurse aid on self-help basis has come into my head.
One of our generous donors for the Eternal Fund of Wachet Hospital is “Phwar Nwe” and she is enjoying her days at the “Hninzigone Home for the Aged”. Some Lower Myanmar EC members visited her from time to time to cheer her up. “Phwar Nwe” told us that the stay at the Hninzigone is comfortable and pleasant, with the opportunity to meditate peacefully. “Phwar Nwe” invited us to join her at the Hninzigone when our age is ripe for quiet stay away from hustle and bustle.
Indeed, the author has great interest in the “Hninzigone Home for the Aged”. Being single without any support of family members, the author stands on her own two feet until now, and when the time has come for total retirement, a simple Road Map of chilling down at an appropriate venue has to be drafted. Caring for the old mother needs assistance as the author could not manage the daily chores. When the domestic help quits the job, it is the big headache for the author. Finding a care person for the elderly is very difficult. However, the older person at home is quite comfortable as her offspring come together in making a good plan for her living. Perhaps, this is the favorable fruits in present life due to her past good deeds. Meanwhile, on my part, a plan on self-help basis for total retirement is important.
Most of the homes for the aged established across our country refused to accept the older person passing the age of (80) years. An aging person is edging towards “illness and infirmity”, which needs more attention for day to day care. The author and close Dhamma friends are desirous to take shelter at an appropriate “Home for the Aged” with nurse aid to face and encounter the inevitable illnesses.
Ultimately, the best choice has been decided.
The dreamy idea is the pragmatic approach to establish “Home for the Aged” with nurse aid on self-help basis at a place near the Wachet Jivitadana Sangha Hospital in Sagaing Hills on the west bank of famous and peaceful Ayeyawaddy River. With this wishful idea, the author started the campaign for the home for the aged.
First, the author has supplicated a letter of intent for the establishment of home for the aged to the respective Sangha Committee of Wachet Sector, providing a copy to the Hospital Support and Logistic Committee of Upper Myanmar and responsible persons. The project has many facets such as finding well wishers for the new building fund, structuring the “Home for the Aged” and recruiting staff members for caring assistances of the aged persons. Searching and possible recruiting the caring nurses for the elderly persons is the hardest part in the project.
The basic concept of the author is to establish “Home for Caring the Elder Persons”, but not merely the “Home for the Aged” for shelter. The plan for caring the elderly person needs high budget. Currently, the Wachet Hospital is functioning at a cost of kyats (35) million a month in the treatment of patients, and therefore, the well wishers and the donors have to raise an Eternal Fund towards the Wachet Hospital to get bank interest.
We have had a meeting and discussed the criteria for accepting the “Elderly Person” at the “Home for the Aged” with nurse aid in Sagaing Hills.
Some fundamental principles and standard norms have come into light.
The elderly person, who intend to stay at the Home, must be a well wisher who had helped and assisted in the donation of kyats (10) million from any person for the Wachet Eternal Fund or the person himself / herself had donated kyats (10) million for the Eternal fund. The person will be considered as first priority. Wachet Hospital and the Management will take care of the health of the older person. Day to day cost such as food, accommodation, general expenses (laundry, cleaning and odd jobs) are to be borne by the elder person at the appropriate and reasonable rate prescribed by the Committee. This is one of the basic principles as stipulated at the “Hninzigone Home for the Aged”. Since the rule is most appropriate, suitable and justified, the persons residing at the “Home for the Aged” with nurse aid will feel clear conscience as one is living at the own expense on self reliant basis. There is no need to be humble, modest and reticent. No humiliation is in scope. There will be no gossip and no rumor against the life-long committee members as they clear the bills while staying at the “Home for the Aged” with nurse aid. The residents would have clear mind and plain feeling at the Home.
About one month after the supplication and proposal to the concerned committee in Sagaing Hills, the Vice-Chairman of Upper Myanmar Logistic and Management Committee made a phone call to the author. First, we exchanged the pleasantries, and the author was told that the fine idea of establishing “Home for the Aged” with nurse aid is possible on the Sagaing Hills. The author was nearly forgotten about the proposal as there was no response for many days. It was good and happy news for me as committee members in Upper Myanmar take interest in the scheme.
As the Vice-Chairman of Upper Myanmar Committee happened to be an Engineer specializing in Myanmar Cultural Design, the author took the opportunity in discussing the structural design for the building. The venue is especially chosen at the west bank of the famous Ayeyawaddy with a view to have clean air and serene environment to the benefit of the elder people staying at the Home.
Thinking about the helping assistances and nurse aids for the aged at the Home, new recruitment of staff members is unavoidable as the regular nurses working at the Wachet Hospital could not be assigned for the “Home for the Aged”.
Patron “Phwar Nwe” of Lower Myanmar EC, who had donated kyats (40) million towards the Wachet Eternal Fund, is staying permanently at the “Hninzigone Home for the Aged”. Vice-Chairwoman (1) and Vice-Chairwoman (2) of Lower Myanmar EC have taken care on the needs of the elderly person. She is fine and comfortable since the “Hninzigone Home for the Aged” was well established and properly managed.
On 9 September 2016, the writer had the opportunity in meeting with some responsible personnel at the “Hninzigone Home for the Aged”, while making some donation in memory of my beloved father. The author sought some information from Medical Superintendent of the Home on the possible training course to be imparted for the new health care assistants for the elderly persons to be recruited for Sagaing Hills. The MS was agreeable on the proposal to train the new health care staff members. The outcome of the discussions was informed in detailed to Upper Myanmar Wachet Supervisory and Logistic Committee for necessary preparation and to agree on the project.
Action plan from “A to Z” is being set for pragmatic approach to establish “Home for the Aged” with nurse aid on self-help basis. When a donor or donors come forward with the fund especially for the Home, then the implementation of the project could roll on smoothly.
Meanwhile, the author is waiting for a well wisher with a big heart.
Although the author has written a second proposal letter to the Chairman of Upper Myanmar in Sagaing on the plan for training the new nurse aids at “Hninzigone Home for the Aged” in Yangon, there was no reply for many weeks.
On 25 September 2016, the Lower Myanmar EC hosted an event in Yangon to pay homage to elderly persons above (80) years among the Patrons of Wachet EC Circle. Chairman of Upper Myanmar, who is above (80), also travelled to Yangon from Sagaing for the ceremony. When I asked Upper Myanmar Chairman about the nurse aid training in Yangon, he responded that the Senior Matron of Wachet Hospital in Sagaing was of the view to provide nurse aid training by them internally at Wachet Hospital. That was why no reply came to Yangon.
There was a difference of ideas in the approach of nurse aid training. I am of the view with broad perspective to impart training for about six months combing theory and practice at “Hninzigone Home for the Aged” where over two hundred older persons are sheltering. This pragmatic training is critical for the nurse aid to be assigned at “Home for Aged” in Sagaing Hills.
My beloved father passed away at the age of (98) years, after an extended period of medical treatment at the hospital and at home for about six years. Some private nurses called in for my father had no practical skills in taking care of the feeble patient. Some had no skill in enteral feeding or tube feeding. With all these past experience, I was of the view to impart practical training of nurse aid at Hninzigone. It is critical and vital to shoulder the task of caring the older person.
New recruits are required to attend at least six months practical training.
Even if the donor for the new building does not come up during these waiting years, it does not matter. The new recruits as nurse aid could be attached to the Wachet Sangha Hospital after the training. The cost incurred for the training for six months must be provided from the fund of Wachet Hospital. However, before sending them to nurse aid training at the Hninzigone, a “Service Bond” should be signed to the effect that the new recruits are obliged to serve for certain years as may deemed fit by the Management Committee either at the “Home for the Aged” or at the “Wachet Hospital”.
The past episodes at the Wachet Hospital showed that some well trained nurses at the expense of the hospital left Wachet and joined some other health care institutions for better salary. They happened to be job changers. In most of the cases, the trained nurses encountered difficulty at the new job and new surrounding, and wanted to come back to Wachet Hospital in Sagaing Hills. During the lifetime of the founder Kyaswa Sayadaw, the mind changers were not allowed to come back to work at Wachet Hospital.
I have shared motley assortment of approaches to Patrons and EC Members for establishing “Home for the Aged” with nurse aids in Sagaing Hills. The catch point is that concerned persons in Wachet EC must understand the core concept of the delicate plan.
In the following days in October 2016, I discussed with the former Chief Matron of the Wachet Hospital regarding the intended training for the new recruits at Hninzigone. A separate discussion was made with the incumbent Chief Matron of the Wachet Hospital on the proposed nurse aid training. Despite the fact that the matrons and senior nurses could provide nurse aid training in theory at Wachet Hospital, they were of the view to impart training at Hninzigone for practical training in caring the elderly persons at Hninzigone Home. At that juncture, I have to ascertain whether it is possible to find new recruits to attend nurse aid training in Yangon. It was happy to note that there are young girls with keen interest to participate.
Meanwhile, I came across an interesting article of prominent Sayadaw on aging depicting over a Myanmar saying “The old body could not follow where the mind goes”. According to Buddhism, life is a combination of mind (nama) and matter (rupa). Mind consists of the combination of sensations, perceptions, volitional activities and consciousness. Matter consists of the combination of the four elements of solidity, fluidity, motion and heat. Sayadaw expounded that “the old body” is “Rupa” and the “Mind” is “Nama”, and the status is that “Rupa” has decreased its strength, anchored and could not move, while the “Nama” could maneuvers and moves ahead. This situation opens up the path to search the “Four Noble Truth” by using the “Nama” with plenty of time in hand.
While thinking and writing about the pragmatic approach to establish “Home for the Aged” with nurse aid on self-help basis in Sagaing Hills, I have found the way leading to the gateway of Nirvana by using and realizing “Nama”.
At a time, when we could not follow the “body” as aging persons, we should stay at an environment with clean air and comfort such as “Home for the Aged” supported with nursing aid, and enter into meditation by using the “mind”.
In the first week of October 2016, I have had the opportunity in the exchange of views with responsible persons of Lower Myanmar and Upper Myanmar ECs for the Home. With keen interest, the senior engineer of Upper Myanmar has already drawn up a sketch design on the structure of two storied building for “Home for the Aged” with Grand Main Prayer hall, reading room and attached with elevator, facing famous Ayeyawaddy River.
I am happy to learn that there are many options in the actual implementation of the building.
The estimated total cost of the Home would be kyats (150) million as Wachet area has many local skilled workers.
If the older persons are keen and desirous to own the room permanently at the Home, contribution of kyats (10) million to the common fund is sufficient.
The project could be realized even without the main donor.
That is what the EC called “self-help basis”.
My dream for establishing “Home for the Aged” with nurse aid is ready to transform into reality soon.
Meanwhile, all concerned persons with Wachet Jivitadana Sangha Hospital in Sagaing Hills are expecting for a donor or donors to contribute kyats (150) millions.
(Daw Myint Myint Kyi is a Retired Senior Government Officer and currently serving as the Honorary Secretary of Wachet Hospital Committee for Lower Myanmar).

(Translated by Sayar Mya).

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