Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Letter to the New Paper: Doing more for senior citizens -
Show re-runs of old TV Shows

My letter on the above subject is published today in the New Paper, page 20.

Many of our seniors citizens who have fulfilled their responsibilities in the past should be able to look forward to a better quality of life in their twilight years.

MediaCorp TV and radio have a role to play in supporting our elderly. Certainly a trip down memory lane will help to revive the beautiful memories that our seniors have of what they once enjoyed.

During the 60s and 70s, there were some very entertaining programmes on television and radio. Television shows like Dr Kildare, Ben Casey, 77 Sunset Strip, Sea Hunt and many more always had a large following.

Westerns such as The Rifleman, Rin Tin Tin and The Lone Ranger also had viewers glued to the small screen.

Ours seniors will definitely appreciate a revival of such TV shows including comedies like The Jack Benny Show and I love Lucy. I remember Jack Benny could easily secure a laugh just by his body language.

Even our local TV productions such as Pop In, Dendang Ria and Talentime were also delightfully entertaining.

Though all these programmes were in black and white, I am sure ours seniors will enjoy watching them all over again because it brings back beautiful memories.

Could MediaCorp TV introduce a senior citizens slot on Channel 5 to recognise those who have contributed much to nation building?

Community support

I remember veteran broadcaster Lucy Leong hosting a radio show dedicated to the sick. Listeners could write in and request songs and send get-well wishes for their loved ones who were hospitalised.

Such a programme could be brought back as part of a community project to support the sick in hospitals and nursing homes.

It will also help seniors if our major supermarkets make available ready-to-cook meals.

When the Japanese supermarket Yaohan was in operation here, these cleaned and packed ready-to-cook meals were very popular. Meat and fish packed with vegetables, garlic and ginger enabled consumers to prepare a meal in less than 10 minutes.

Such products may also prove useful for working couples who often have little time to prepare dinner.


Monday, April 12, 2010

VICIOUS ONLINE COMMENTS: Don't hide behind anonymity

Raymond's letter to the New Paper:
My letter on the above matter is published today, Monday 12 April 2010 in the New Paper on page 17. Do check it out.

Reading some of the comments posted in online discussions, I get a feel of how people react to some of the letters in the press.

While some comments are sensible and useful for the Government to review and fine-tune polices, there are also readers who use technology for all the wrong reasons – to humilate, demoralise and demean others.

My intention in raising the plight of the mentally ill and their caregivers over the last five years in the media was to seek understanding and support from the Government and society as a whole.

I have also made some suggestions to improve our mental health care and I am encouraged that some progress has been made.

Just as we promote continous learning, we must also promote continous improvements in all our service sectors. Only then, can we reinvent ourselves to meet the many challenges coming our way.

I wrote a letter to the press recently highlighting the struggles I face as a caregiver to my wife who suffers from schizophrenia and four other illneses. In that letter, I mentioned that she has to take 42 drugs a day to manage her five chronic illnesses. This was to highlight the ardous journey I travel in loving and caring for my wife.

One of the comments posted in cyberscape to that letter was downright vicious.

As usual, this person chose to remain anonymous. This is what he said I should do to my wife: “Taking 42 tablets daily? Even a doctor will get confused. Better euthanise her.”

Hate mail has seen some celebrities commit suicide and we must never allow such behaviour to continue here or it will tear apart the fabric of our society.

If anyone chooses to make such insensitive attacks on vunerable people they must be willing to put down their real name.

And for those who do not feel the suffering of our least privileged, I ask them to take heed of what the Dalai Lama once said: “Our prime purpose in life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Raymond's letter to the Straits Times(ST) Forum Page: Spare a thought for kin of patients

A resident doctor in a nursing home, Dr Tan Chek Wee wrote in to the Straits Times highlighting how family members abuse health-care proffessionals. But the doctor only painted one side of the story. Here's my response to his letter, which is published in the ST today, Monday 5th April 2010,page A18. Check it out.

I refer to Dr Tan Chek Wee's letter last Saturday, “Help caregivers abused by patients, kin”.

While health-care proffesionals face increasing stress from complaints, family members also face anxiety and stress when health-care standards are not up to scratch. Dr Tan has presented one side of the story; let me present the other.

In November 2006, my wife who receives treatment at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) to manage her schizophrenia and depression, had to undergo total knee replacement surgery at a public hospital. She also has arthritis and three other chronic illnesses.

As required, I typed out a list of the 42 drugs she was taking, which included 21 psychiatric tablets and gave it to the ward staff. I took pains to explain in detail how the drugs were to be taken. This is because the wrong dosage could result in a relapse of my wife's mental illness, and her full recovery could take as long as a year.

On the first night in the ward, a nurse almost gave her the wrong dosage for one of the critical drugs for her mental illness. If it was not for my checks, my wife could have suffered a relapse. At a result of this, I had no choice but to rush down by taxi everyday before her drugs were given, so I could counter-check her medications. That placed undue stress on me.

I did not make a complaint, but the anaesthetist who understood how difficult it is to manage mental illness cautioned the nurses. For the five days that my wife stayed in hospital, I suffered alone.

So try to understand the anxiety and stress that family members face when service standards are far from satisfactory.

With Singapore striving for excellence in health care, complaints are bound to arise. Feedback helps us to improve the level of service. And even though complaints may arise from time to time, health-care proffesionals should take it as part and parcel of their job.

Raymond Anthony Fernando

Footnote: Many in our society still cannot accept people with mental illness. A few choose to pass the most humilating and cruel remarks about sufferes of mental illness. Like this guy who does not reveal his real name and posted a very wicked remark on the ST online forum, after reading this letter to the ST: He calls himself , KOKOKBIRD. This is what he has said: "Taking 42 tablets daily? Even a doctor will be confused.... Better euthanise her".

We must go all out and shame such unkind people or the mentally ill and ther caregivers will find it so hard to reintegrate back into society.

Raymond Anthony Fernando