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Ressam Gardens coming to West 5th

One-of-a-kind memory care centre slated to open late next year

NEWS Jun 13, 2019 
by Mark Newman  
Hamilton Mountain News


A drawing of what Ressam Gardens will look like. – Image by Rainier De los Reyes


Nafia Al-Mutawaly originally set out to design a state-of-the-art residential home for seniors.

But after watching how Alzheimer’s disease affected his mother, he wanted to do more.

“Observing this disease and what it does to a human being really had a huge impact on my way of thinking,” said the former McMaster University and Mohawk College electrical engineering professor, who shifted his focus to looking after seniors who suffer from dementia in a compassionate residential setting.

Mutawaly was all smiles at the June 13 official groundbreaking for Ressam Gardens, a $16 million, four-storey, 48-suite, first-of-its-kind in North America residential care facility for people suffering from all forms of dementia on West 5th just south of Stone Church Road West.

It is slated to open in December 2020.

A second phase is also being contemplated, but the size and timing of the addition has not been determined.

Ressam was the nickname for his mother, Rassmeuah Sadik, who died two years ago.

“This facility is dedicated toward memory care, with the focus on Alzheimer’s and dementia,” said Al-Mutawaly, who has formed a consortium of local investors for the private sector health-care initiative.

Al-Mutawaly, who came to Canada from Iraq in 1991, said the project has been 10 years in the making and is based on Hogeweyk, a nursing home for people with dementia in The Netherlands that looks and functions much like a regular village, along with some aspects of memory-care facilities he has visited in Turkey.

An elaborate system of electronic technology or smart systems will be used to monitor the residents, including the use of GPS bracelets for those who can venture outside.

“We will embed smart sensors, we will have all the monitoring systems, artificial intelligence use to improve the quality of life of the seniors living here,” Al-Mutawaly said.

He added they are hoping to hold some events for residents at Dr. William Connell Park across the street.

Al-Mutawaly said he expects to get residents via referrals from local health-care professionals and from their website, adding the cost to live there could be as much as $6,000 per month.

While the project has not received any government funding, it will serve as a living lab for researchers from the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging (MIRA).

MIRA managing director Ine Wauben said Ressam Gardens gives them an opportunity to test the effectiveness of new memory-related technologies.

“It’s really a great facility for McMaster researchers to implement their research and test their innovations,” she said.

Each resident’s diet, activities and mobility will all be monitored to give researchers a better understanding of memory-related illnesses.

Ressam Gardens will be run by the Extendicare nursing home company.

Gary Loden, vice-president of the company’s management and consulting division, said the new facility will have about 100 employees and the focus on memory-related care will enable them to develop a new model for seniors’ care.

“This gives us an opportunity to grow our knowledge and resource base,” Loden said.

Nalini Sen, director of research programs at the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada, noted 564,000 Canadians have some form of dementia.

She said the research being done at Ressam Gardens will be closely watched by their group.

“If anything, it will only improve the research that goes on within this particular base,” said Sen, who added they are “leaning on technology more and more” to help improve the quality of life for people with dementia.

by Mark Newman

Mark Newman is a reporter for Mountain News. He can be reached at mnewman@hamiltonnews.com