Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Laws must protect all those who are abandoned - By Raymond Anthony Fernando

My letter to The New Paper on the above matter, is published on Wed 26th June 2013.

Given that the elderly are often viewed as being a burden by some of their children, I am not surprised to read the report, “Dumped like a dog in JB,” (The New Paper, June 25).

Have those who had abandoned their elderly parents forgotten that they would not be in this world if not for their parents?

With people living longer and as our population ages rapidly, caregiving will become the norm. But caregiving, undoubtedly, will see carers suffer burnout - more so when grown up children have to work long and draining hours to bring home the bacon, and to look after their own families.

With many of our elderly living in isolation and abandoned not just overseas, but here in Singapore, there is an urgent need for our law makers to ensure that the elderly are given adequate protection. It does not augur well for Singapore when such cases are taking place in several countries overseas.

More so, when the Government strives to make Singapore the best home to work, play and live in.
It is not just the elderly who are being abandoned, but there are also other vulnerable groups who are living in isolation, feel unloved and uncared for. One such group are those suffering from mental illness who are ostracized from society. Primary caregivers in this group must provide frequent care to their stricken ones under very complex circumstances.

One way to minimise abandonment of vulnerable groups is to have a proper support system for caregivers, and this is something that is clearly lacking here.

Under the Mental Capacity Act, abandonment is an offence only under the Children and Young Persons Act for children under the age of 12. Why is this so when there are adults suffering from mental illness who are abandoned? Shouldn’t those that fall in this bracket also receive adequate protection?

Criminalisation of abandonment of vulnerable groups is long overdue; and this is why our policy makers must review laws concerning these groups, so that everyone in Singapore can lead a simple, fruitful and meaningful life.

- Raymond Anthony Fernando

Here, the link to that article:

Monday, June 10, 2013

Letter to the Press: Extend nursing helpline to all estates

My letter to The Straits times on the above matter was published, today, Monday 10th June 2013.

I am sure many Nee Soon South residents will benefit from the new nurse helpline that will be available from next Monday ("Free nurse helpline for Nee Soon South residents"; last Monday).

But the service, which seeks to reach out to residents who may be too apprehensive to seek face-to-face advice on issues they are grappling with, should be extended to other housing estates.

In hospitals, health-care professionals make it a point to remind patients to tell them if they are facing any problems, such as financial ones. In such a conducive, warm and friendly environment, patients can easily open up and feel comfortable to speak frankly about their problems.

But once the patients are discharged, they may not receive the same level of support. This is especially so as family sizes have become smaller and sometimes, a patient may have only one caregiver.

Several media reports show that many people are finding it difficult to cope with the stresses of life. Their problems include mental-health issues, violence in the family, poor anger management, substance abuse and losing the will to live.

Many senior citizens are lonely, isolated and depressed. We need to reach out to the vulnerable in our society.

So, it is only right that such nursing helplines be extended to residents in all housing estates. We should not neglect other residents in dire need of support. Rather, we must show that we are building a cohesive Singapore where every citizen matters.

Raymond Anthony Fernando