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Launch of Dementia Therapeutic Garden and Virtual Forest

By Mei Kuan

Sponsored by The Rotary Foundation’s Global Grant programme, a multisensory and motor stimulation outdoor facility using horticulture therapy at BebeLEC, a dementia therapeutic daycare centre in Ipoh, had its e-launch today (June 19) via Zoom.

An initiative of the Rotary Club of Greentown in collaboration with The Dementia Society Perak, this first-of-its-kind themed garden in Malaysia is designed to cater for people with dementia at each stage of their ailment. 

Rendering holistic treatment, it provides therapies ranging from physical exercise to mental equilibrium. Besides that, potting and planting activities help to regulate body movement and perpetuate muscle strength of the wheelchair-bound and walking clients.

Stimulating the five senses, the pioneering project features a hanging garden, bamboo grove, water fountain, potting beds, vegetable patches and koi pond. 

Imagine fragrant flowers, the rustling of leaves, rhythmic sway of bamboo, sound of running water over rocks, fishes swimming among flowering aquatic plants and more!

The fence-encapsulated facility has an obstruction-free, quasi-circular path, brightly coloured yellow grab rails and strategically-placed garden chairs.

Francis Vijeyaselvan, Organising Chairperson and Past Assistant Governor expressed his gratitude to all including the Rotary Club of Taipei Rui An of Taiwan and Rotary Club of Makati Edsa of Philippines for their contributions.

“This project was initiated in the Rotary Year 2018 / 2019 and it is one of the biggest projects of the club. This is also our first Global Grant project,” explained Rita Olikh, President of the Rotary Club of Greentown.

“As we watch Dr Esther and her team make a difference in the lives of those affected by dementia, we Rotarians decided that we should do our part for the community as well. The umbrella term ‘dementia’ needed our attention and we were ready to work hard to challenge this silver tsunami,” added Dr Sumeeta Dhanoa, Vice Chairperson of The Dementia Society Perak and Past President of Rotary Club of Greentown.

Then, Dr Esther Gunaseli, Chairperson of The Dementia Society Perak gave an informative presentation on the Ipoh Dementia Care Model and facilities at BebeLEC.

District Governor Teoh Kwan Swee launching the facilities

In addition to District Governor Teoh Kwan Swee as guest of honour, present were Leslie Salehuddin, Past District Governor and Dato’ Bindi Rajasegaran, District Governor Elect. 

“Congratulations on the benevolent collaboration in providing the beneficiaries with the state-of-the-art facilities,” Teoh said in his officiating speech. 

It was double the joy as a virtual forest, an immersive experience for people living with dementia, was introduced as well. It is a virtual environment designed to empower and give back control to users. For instance, it gives them an element of control at a time in their life when so many choices are beyond their control.

Virtual forest

The successful virtual launch ended with a question-and-answer session. 

Operating since 2011, BebeLEC by The Dementia Society Perak is aimed to improve the quality of life of people with dementia and to provide support for caregivers among others. The first dementia daycare centre in Perak is located at 56,  Jalan Lang, Padang Tembak, 30000 Ipoh. The centre can be reached at 05 5060806. For more information, visit the NGO’s website at https://thedementiasocietyperak.wordpress.com/

Meanwhile, the Rotary Club of Greentown was founded in 1995 and it welcomes those who wish to make a change in the lives of people with needs as members. For more updates, check out its Facebook page.

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Tan Mei Kuan

Tan Mei Kuan graduated with first-class honours and book prize from University of Malaya majoring in languages and linguistics (English). She is proficient in both written and spoken English and Malay. She is also conversant in Mandarin and has knowledge of Japanese and Korean languages. Mei Kuan has been on the Dean’s List for three years running. Having written for the campus newspaper and residential college magazine, joining Ipoh Echo has helped utilise her writing and language skills. In her spare time she enjoys running (races).

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