The Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Prof. Darlington Obaseki, has announced the teaching hospital’s plans to commence a full-fledged diploma course in Elder Care Aides.
This, he said, was in line with UBTH’s commitment and vision of continuous excellence. Prof. Obaseki made this known during the graduation ceremony of the first set of Elder Care Aides (ECAs) trainees at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin City.
The three-week long intensive training programme which drew about 68 participants from across the country, was organized by the geriatrics’ unit of the teaching hospital.
Prof. Obaseki, while harping on the significance of ensuring crucial services are given to the elderly, said the hospital vision is to become a premier learning and training centre in the West Africa sub-region.
The CMD, tasked the caregivers across health facilities in the country to support and provide professional care for elderly persons, noting that the senior citizens deserve good life and attention to stay healthy.
Obaseki added that the institution would not relent in rewarding hard work and selfless service in its effort to deliver quality healthcare in the country.
The CMD, also expressed support for the geriatrics’ unit at the hospital, adding that providing care and showing empathy for the elderly is a collective responsibility.
He urged graduates of the programme to give friendly and professional care to the elderly, noting that the institution was reputed for healthcare excellence.
The training program originated from UBTH’s Elder Friendly Hospitals Initiative (ELDFRHI), launched in March 2020 by the then Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who promised to adopt it as a national programme.
In her address, Prof. Obehi Akoria, the lead faculty and programme facilitator identified some challenges faced by older persons (60 years and above) in assessing quality health care in Nigeria, and emphasised on the importance of life course approach to aging stressed the need for society to implement primary, secondary, and tertiary interventions, emphasizing the significance of multi-sectoral, multi-pronged strategies in addressing the diverse needs of the elderly.
“We can only do so much in our hospitals, but we can achieve a lot more if we take our campaign for a life course approach to successful ageing to households.
“The novel Ageing Friendly Households Initiative (AGEFRHI) is thus designed to take the message of successful ageing to households so that while we are working from the hospital end to make hospitals more elder friendly, using UBTH as a pilot, we are taking the campaign of making households ageing friendly to our communities, getting people to be aware that they can contribute better to how well they age.
“The newly certified ECAs will be ambassadors of the AGEFRHI campaign and the life course approach to successful (healthy) ageing as propounded by the World Health Organisation”, he said.
Prof. Akoria, who is the immediate past Commissioner for Health in Edo State, expressed satisfaction about the direct impact of the ECA training course on the participants, which, she said, was a life changer for most, going by their testimonials. She disclosed that many of the faculty members were aged between 60 and 85 years, and participated actively throughout the 3-week intensive course.
“This training has changed participants’ mindsets about how older persons are often regarded in the society”, Prof. Akoria said.
Seventeen years old, Jessica Izefua Idialu, the youngest in this pioneer set who also made the list as one of the top 10 trainees, expressed delight in the training, describing it as really intensive, rigorous and brain tasking but totally awesome.
“The ECA training, though rigorous and very intensive, was a valuable opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the field and learn about the benefits of old age.
“The well-organized training provided a solid foundation for further learning.
“Overall, the experience was positive and enriching, and I am grateful for the opportunity. I would like to thank the organizers for their hard work and dedication,” Jessica said.
Another new Elder Care Aides, Efe Susan Isibor, giving her impression about the training, said, “Aside from the wonderful and thought-provoking lectures on various aspects of ageing, I would like to talk about my experience at the wards where I learnt how to take vital signs, how to do bed baths, make beds, documentation, administration of drugs, feeding through the N.G. tube and lots more.
“I must confess that this training has transformed me totally and given me a different view about ageing”, she said.
Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Udu, a participant from Anambra State, said, “The training has helped me to know more about old age. It has helped me know that you can age gracefully and healthily”.
The training was facilitated by a team of experts drawn from Nigeria, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.