Dúbravská oáza: A facility for senior citizens that your parents deserve
Even a lot of the locals do not know about the quiet complex. At first glance, few would think that the buildings, which look more like a hotel, would be a home for senior citizens. Thanks in part to investors from the Crowdberry investment platform, however, this facility has been created with a modern concept that lets its residents grow old with dignity.
A few minutes’ drive through a forest and then I get out in front of a facility that looks like a hotel at first glance. It is a warm and sunny day, just before noon. On the lawn in front of the buildings, a group of seniors, not hotel guests, is seated on benches, chairs and wheelchairs. A nurse is walking around them, they are talking. A large sign, “Dúbravská oáza” (Dúbravka Oasis), can be seen on the façade.
I used to walk past this facility on my way to the observation tower on the nearby hill in Bratislava, but I didn’t know what it was used for. Now I know that it is a modern retirement home catering to those who need almost no help as well as to those in poor health.
Simple improvements that make a big difference
The facility is operated by the non-profit organisation Dúbravská oáza klidu a odpočinku (Dúbravka Oasis of Peace and Relaxation), which leases the building from its owner, Griffin, s.r.o. I meet the Director of the facility, Jaroslav Jakubčík, and a representative from Griffin, Ľuboš Piroha, who is one of the people behind the idea to build this centre. While we make our way through the dining room, which already has the tables set for the clients, each place with a name tag, he tells me that the centre opened two years ago and today there are four facilities located under one roof: a day care centre, a facility for senior citizens, a nursing facility and a specialised facility for patients with Alzheimer’s disease. “The centre is designed so that seniors who are still active can come and, as they age, they can pass through the individual departments depending on their state of health,” explained Jaroslav Jakubčík.
The hallways are lively. A senior, who greets us sprightly, heads to the inner atrium, where she joins a group resting in the shade. Behind the atrium there is a quiet zone meant for patients with Alzheimer’s.
We go take a look at the accommodation. The individual wings are marked with easy-to-read letters and a coloured band at eye level on the wall (hospital wards in western countries work on a similar principle). The doors are marked with names and decorations or notices hang on some of them. We enter a sample room.
“We have single and double rooms here, and all the rooms, just like the entire complex, have air conditioning. Each of them, in addition to the regular furnishings, has an adjustable bed, an intercom over which the clients can call a nurse, a television, a separate bathroom adapted to the needs of seniors and a comfortable, adjustable chair for the clients or their visitors,” explained Ľuboš Piroha, adding that all the rooms are wheelchair accessible and every wing has its own kitchen and small dining room that they can use at any time.
“Sometimes the seniors don’t feel like eating in the large dining room, or they don’t have the strength, so they can have the food brought to their room or eat in the kitchen,” explained the Griffen representative, Ľuboš Piroha.
Personnel is responsible for 99% of the result
Client services in the centre include group exercises with physiotherapists, manual work in workshops with social workers, regular mass or folk music concerts, and performances by children’s music groups. Even though clients have a certain schedule specified in the centre, if they do not feel like a group activity, they do not have to participate. But social workers will make sure that it is only a one-time mood swing, and not a signal that something more serious is developing. In addition to the permanent staff, several doctors regularly come to the facility to take care of the clients.
“No matter how pretty the environment or the facility is, the staff is responsible for 99% of the result. Because even if you have a golden cage but poor personnel, or if you do not provide a quality service, it goes downhill fast,” explained Jakubčík. He immediately added that it is hard to find good people, so the selection process is more complicated. He always checks references on new employees carefully.
We also visit the rehabilitation centre, in which each client undergoes two individual exercises or massages per week. One of the rooms is already prepared for a hot tub. We also pass a beauty salon for manicure and pedicure. A lady with pink hair is telling something to one of the clients while working.
We move out onto the terrace on the first floor and sit at a table. It is warm, with the forest rustling just a few steps away from us. “We bought this land a few years ago from the Salesians. There was a centre here for training priests. It is a wonderful, quiet place. The building, however, dates to the 70s. When the housing estate was built here, followed by the rocket base up on Devínska Kobyla, a training centre was created here by the Ministry of Defence for soldiers and a Pioneer camp for their children. But the final building construction wasn’t approved until 1988-1989, so it was probably never even used. Then Markíza briefly had a pre-broadcasting studio here before it moved to Záhorská Bystrice, and later it operated as the hotels Hubert and Alfonz. In fact, Václav Havel stayed here back then,” stated Jaroslav Jakubčík.
Looking for investments to expand through the Crowdberry platform
When the organisation started building the centre, it gathered together a group of experienced professionals who had worked with senior citizens. According to their recommendations, the site gradually took on its present appearance and the experts are still working on the project to this day, especially in managerial positions.
The initial reconstruction was financed by a bank loan and funds from investors, though further capital was required before the completion of the building for equipment and the operational launch of the centre. They got this thanks to investors from the Crowdberry platform, which offers opportunities for interesting investments into Slovak and Czech companies. A second opportunity to be a co-owner of Dúbravská oáza is now possible, because a further expansion of the centre is being prepared. To a great extent, the final amount will be used for improving the capital structure before the prepared phases of expanding the capacity – the construction of two new buildings with an additional capacity of 120 beds. In addition, more equipment is planned, as well as staff accommodation, and a small amphitheatre with a screen for summer performances and film screenings.
“I can imagine that our investors might become people whose parents will soon, or already are, dependant on such a facility. Our investors naturally have a privileged right for placement in Dúbravská oáza for their family members,” stated Jaroslav Jakubčík.
Target group not the elite
“I am most proud of that fact that we have created a facility not only for rich people. The payment by a family member is around 400 euros. Just think that you and a sibling both pay 200 euros each and you are assured that your loved one is in good hands and in a refined environment,” said Ľuboš Piroha.
Jaroslav Jakubčík compares the situation to a caregiver in the family: “Imagine that for Alzheimer’s disease you would have to designate one of the family. Most importantly, this person would lose his or her income, about 1,100 to 1,200 euros net in Bratislava. Second, this person has to be there 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That means that in three months, this person is exhausted – physically and mentally – and the whole family usually suffers.”
The Director of the facility and the representative of Griffin are pleased with what they have accomplished so far, though they agree that they have a long road ahead of them. “It is definitely worthwhile investing in this, since there are very few such facilities. Even if there were four more in Bratislava, the demand would not be fully satisfied. I think that more facilities are needed that would provide people a place to grow old with dignity. There is a long-term rate of return here, but it is very stable. We are also doing something for this society, though, and whenever I come here, I have a good feeling,” concluded Ľuboš Piroha.
This text was created in cooperation with Denník N.