My letter on the above matter is published in The New Paper today, Friday 17 June 2011, page 20.
It is shocking to read the report of mistreatment of the elderly woman in the Nightingale Nursing Home, “Nightmare at the Nightingale” (The New Paper on Friday, June 10).
To ill treat a defenceless elderly woman who suffered a stroke is inhumane and unacceptable. I am surprised that the abusers have got away with just being disciplined.
Do they not know that a woman's modesty should be protected at all cost, and that to slap a helpless old lady on the mouth can be very painful?
Was this the only time the senior citizen was abused or were there other instances?
Under the elder abuse laws, the perpetrators should be brought to court for physical, and possibly, verbal abuse.
Otherwise occurrences of such abuses will continue and some cases of ill treatment may even go undetected.
While managing persons with chronic illnesses and disabilities is not the easiest task, professional caregivers who are entrusted to care for the sick must practise patience and perseverance that can help to lift the human spirit and lead the afflicted ones to recovery.
In this respect, I propose that the Government implements an attractive reward system that recognises professional health-care workers in nursing homes who go the extra mile in caring for their charges, just as they do in public hospitals.
Caregivers should also be encouraged to visit their sick relatives frequently and to this end, it is necessary to ensure that all nursing homes are easily accessible to members of the public in terms of buses – be it from public transport companies or feeder bus services.
Caregiving, whether it comes from professional health-care workers or family members must be promoted as a noble job.
I therefore revisit an idea which I proposed a few times to the Government - give a caregiver's allowance that can help family members take on this task rather than place them in nursing homes, bearing in mind that looking after a person with disabilities or chronic illnesses requires supervision 24/7.
Unannounced visits at nursing homes and hospitals by officials from the Ministry of Health (MOH), coupled with six monthly feedback assessments from relatives on the service levels at these homes, that can be summarised by the home's administrators to MOH should also be put in place.
RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO