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RAHA receives over 800 calls for assistance since launch in June

RAHA receives over 800 calls for
assistance since launch in June

CATHERINE W GICHUKI
DOHA
Since its launch on June 15, the National Alzheimer’s and Memory Services Helpline (RAHA) has received more than 800 calls.
The helpline, launched to provide support and care to the elderly in Qatar, provides information about brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and related dementia, taking calls to help with further evaluation of memory concerns while providing support to help people manage the condition.
Speaking to media persons, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) Senior Consultant Geriatric Psychiatrist Dr Mani Chandran said that sometimes the helpline receives as many as 40 calls a day.
He said that under the leadership of Dr Hanadi Al Hamad, who is the National Lead for Healthy Ageing and the Focal Lead for Dementia in Qatar, the care of the elderly during the COVID-19 times has completely changed landscape in Qatar.
He said they discouraged the elderly from coming the hospital unless when very necessary because they are at a higher risk - they are more vulnerable. Dr Chandran added that this led to ensuring that they have support structures for health care which they could access.
“We have embraced telehealth. Our department was the first in HMC to launch the virtual clinics. We have the tele-consultations and virtual clinic which is where our regular clinic work goes,” he said.
He added that besides the tele-consultations and virtual clinics, the department also has the helplines.
“The line is 16000 national helpline which is connected to the geriatric helpline and the RAHA- the National Alzheimer’s and Memory Services Helpline,” Dr Chandran said.
According to him, in times of COVID-19, patients with dementia and caregivers go through a difficult time and there are periods when they need help and support.
He said, “Not being able to access health care increases the burden. Therefore, having this helpline at this time is like a huge blessing that Qatar gets from all the well-wishers and the Almighty.”
He said that people can just call RAHA 40262222 open from Sunday to Thursday 8am to 3pm. He said, “We have a group of multi-disciplinary professionals, including psychologists, geriatrician, geriatric psychiatrists and trained specialised nurses, who are always ready to take the call. We get to understand what the problem is and how to help them.
“In COVID-19 times, it is difficult to access healthcare. Therefore, we understand the problem and we are able to guide and support the patients in the best way possible while observing all the COVID-19 precautions.” Dr Chandran said besides the telehealth and helplines, the department has made significant change in the landscape of care is the service provision.
“In service provision under Dr Hanadi’s leadership, we have a unique day centre - an elderly daycare based in Rumailah Hospital and works from 7am till 10pm every day of the week. This enables us to do investigations such as blood tests and scans. They can spend the day with us and have a treatment plan and go home.”
Dr Chandran added that in addition to the daycare centre, Dr Hanadi has also developed two acute assessment units within Rumailah Hospital for a patient who needs three or four days of stay to further manage their conditions.

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