Call for cultural resthome

RHIANNON HORRELL
Last updated 09:36 07/09/2011
Resthome CLD
JASON OXENHAM

TAKING RESPONSIBILITY: Bhartiya Samaj Charitable Trust chairman Jeet Suchdev says it has a vision to set up a resthome to meet the cultural needs of central Auckland's large South Asian community.

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A resthome which could cater for Auckland's South Asian community has strong support.

The option to visit a mosque or temple, eat traditional food or speak one's native language is part of a vision for a culturally appropriate resthome.

The Bhartiya Samaj Charitable Trust is responding to a call from the community of about 35,000 people.

The non-profit group has been inspired to fundraise so it can provide for growing numbers of elderly.

"Children want to see their parents happy," trust chairman Jeet Suchdev says.

"I've visited so many resthomes and the people are miserable. For some there are issues with food, companionship and entertainment.

"Traditionally we don't let our parents go to resthomes easily. There's always a fear in the back of my mind – who will feed them? Who will keep them happy?"

He says many South Asian residents – Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans and Bangladeshis, among others – have had to adapt to the Kiwi style of living when they move into a resthome.

"Food is the main problem. We are used to eating traditional food – but in resthomes we can't. These people have been eating a certain type of food their whole lives. They can't communicate and they start to feel isolated."

Mr Suchdev believes that if people are happy they tend to live longer.

"My mother is in a resthome and I have to take her food at lunch and dinner time. We have to stay for a few hours too – we can't rush off."

Plans for a resthome facility are now in the early stages and the trust may opt to lease a venue instead of buying one.

"There are so many people wanting this – they're asking me how the plans are going. This is a need of the time," Mr Suchdev says. "We are aiming for something that can cater for 50 people. We will just take small steps and take it from there."

At present the trust operates a community facility in Mt Roskill where seniors can spend time.

The resthome would cater for South Asians but anyone would be welcome. Mr Suchdev says it would need to be between Blockhouse Bay and Onehunga.

Dr Wasim Ketan, who knows Mr Suchdev and owns 11 resthomes in Auckland and Hamilton, suggests a boarding house might be more realistic.

"I will be there if he needs help. For new people to start this kind of business, it's not easy. You need $2 million in your hand."

Trust patron Dr Ashraf Choudhary says there's a definite need for a cultural facility.

"The number of senior citizens is growing. There's a specific need for food, many are vegetarian and some are Muslims who don't eat pork.

"They also have unique religious requirements," he says.

Mr Choudhary says it would be particularly good for parents of migrants who don't speak English.

Auckland mayor Len Brown says in principle the resthome concept sounds very worthwhile.

"For the new Auckland to succeed we have to nurture the various communities that make up our town. I look forward to hearing more about the proposal."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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