Dok Kaew Gardens, located in the vast 350 rai of McKean hospital’s grounds, opened its doors just two months ago. What is unique about Dok Kaew is that it is a retirement home aimed at both expats and Thais. While many Thais are fortunate to be taken care of by their relatives in their twilight years, this age-old tradition is waning, and many elderly Thais are finding themselves alone and at a loss. Things can be bad for many expatriates as well, as most do not have a family nucleus in Thailand, and much of the time when someone gets sick here they are only left with the option of returning to their home country, or hiring private nursing. The thought of jetting back to the west is not always a great alternative for the elderly, especially considering Thailand’s warm hospitable climate, affordability, and of course the fatigue of long distance flights. And once you see the pretty landscaping of Dok Kaew Gardens, studded with bright flowers and trees, beside a lush lotus pond, you might consider bedding down at the retirement home once quotidian life becomes a bit of a struggle. You might also, à la the west, off-load your aged parents who you don’t have time to look after.
Dok Kaew Gardens welcomes almost anyone, of any nationality and at any age. They have the equipment and staff to take care of almost all retirement and medical needs though they do ask that their residents are somewhat mobile and not completely bed bound. The home consists of two wings, the Lotus Wing for independent and semi-independent residents and the Jasmine Wing for people who need more attention such as those who might be suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other debilitating diseases. Physical therapy and rehab are available at McKean’s long standing hospital though this is not included in the cost of staying at the retirement home.
The Lotus Wing rooms look somewhat like a boutique hotel though each room has a unique look. You can choose between air-con or fan while all rooms have wi-fi, TV, fridge, a nice view and support the disabled (call buttons are placed in each bedroom and bathroom). The wing has a communal area with TV room, beauty parlour, dining room, computer room and a kitchen – even though three meals (western breakfast) are served each day. Services include laundry, bathing assistance if needed, housekeeping and meals. Residents are pretty much free to do what they want although Dok Kaew Gardens does not allow smoking, drinking in the communal area, pets, or for those who still have the inclination, ‘friends’ staying over night, though, of course, couples wishing to stay together are welcome. Exercise and activities will be on offer and trips into town are regular with a shuttle service that will take residents to the largest shopping malls, while if you want to invite family or friends over, they are always welcome. Taxis can also be arranged for people wanting to leave the grounds of McKean at any time (McKean being about a fifteen minute drive from the city). Care plans are made for everyone staying at Dok Kaew Gardens, this plan is designed with the advice of the staff at Dok Kaew Gardens but the residents’ own input is equally important.
In the Jasmine Wing residents are provided with 24 hour supervision with security cameras and the ‘care plan’ residents require. The unit is secure in case any residents decide to go and wander. This unit is for patients who require round the clock assistance so there will always be a nurse and other trained staff on duty.
McKean itself in the past was a leprosy colony (found in 1909) though leprosy is pretty much unheard of nowadays and only a few non-contagious leprosy patients remain. In the eighties the colony became a home for anyone with physical disabilities and since then it has been a sanctuary for many handicapped or those seeking physical therapy in Chiang Mai. The island that is McKean couldn’t be much more idyllic, make sure you have a tour of the grounds if you decide to go and visit Dok Kaew Gardens.
As making the decision to live at a retirement home might not be easy Dok Kaew Gardens does allow short term trial living for residents prior to making the big move.
Chiang Mai News : e-Citylife