Saturday, March 22, 2014

Raymond A Fernando's letter to The New Paper: AMPUTEE SPAT WITH NUH

Letter to The New Paper: AMPUTEE SPAT WITH NUH
Sad that former soldier must fend for himself

My letter on the above matter is published in The New Paper today, Saturday 22nd March 2014.

It is a real sad state of affairs that an army officer, who must have once contributed to our nation’s security, is now left to fend for himself as in the report, “Amputee upset hospital discharged him” (The New Paper, March 15).

With our hospitals facing bed crunch problems, I am sure the National University Hospital (NUH) had little choice but to discharge Mr Ervine Miranda. 

When a person has mobility problems like he does, frustration, anger and anxiety are bound to set in. 

But it is commendable that the health-care workers at NUH understood his feelings and have been more than tolerant with his outbursts.

Given that Mr Miranda would not be able to care for himself as his family has left him, the Government could help in several ways. 

We must bear in mind that during his younger days, he has also contributed to nation- building. And he needs to be assured that the authorities recognised that.

Firstly, help to secure a nursing home for Mr Miranda, where full time care can be given.  But before this is done, professionals need to counsel him and advise him on the options open to him.  He needs to be assured that help is always available.

Secondly, grassroots leaders, with some volunteers can help to clean up his 3-room flat in Ghim Moh.  Then he has the option to rent it out through the Community Development Council, and the income generated can be used to help pay for his home care and for other needs. 

For such a case, the Government can perhaps offer a higher subsidy for fulltime nursing care.

Lastly, it would be helpful if some volunteers who are trained in counselling visit him to reassure him that there is always light at the end of a dark tunnel.








Raymond A Fernando's Letter to MediaCorp’s TODAY newspaper: Family upset by care of mum at residential home

My letter on the above matter was published in TODAY newspaper on Saturday 22nd March 2014.

The Health Minister mentioned that his ministry will ramp up programmes to facilitate a patient’s discharge from acute hospitals as it raises the quality of step-down care in community hospitals and nursing homes. (“Medisave use, drug subsidies to be enhanced”; March 13)

My concern is that some elderly patients may end up in residential homes that are lacking.

For example, my mother, 89, needs assistance with daily living and must now spend her twilight years in St John’s Home in Wan Tho Avenue, as my sister can no longer cope after four decades of caregiving responsibilities.

Although I had asked the Agency for Integrated Care to place my mother in a nursing home, this request could not be met, as she was assessed by a public acute hospital to be totally ambulant, when she is not.

The environment at the home is not conducive. Observing that my mother’s dormitory toilet was dirty, my sister offered to clean the place, but the management rejected this.

My sister was then barred from entering the dormitory to check on my mother’s nappy stock and provide her the emotional and physical support she needs.

Although many of the residents have few or no teeth, the meals such as meat are hard. My siblings and I have been taking food to our mother.

Last week, she had a fall. Worried that she could have a stroke from the next fall or end up back in hospital, I requested a wheelchair, as she was struggling to walk.

But this was turned down; the manager insists that my mother must be independent, when she is not. Rigid rules are enforced, and we are at the mercy of the management.

It is not right to treat a pioneer in this manner, distressing her family members in the process.

Raymond Anthony Fernando




Thursday, March 20, 2014

Raymond's letter to The Straits Times: Home care services: Why the need for means-testing?

My letter on the above matter is published in The Straits Times on Thursday 20th March 2014.

The Government has announced plans to provide better support for caregivers and roll out more subsides for home care (“Helping more seniors ‘age in place’ at home”; last Thursday).

These schemes, which are long overdue, will provide better support for caregivers, especially those who are looking after their loved ones with special needs.

However, it is worrying that subsidies for both rehabilitation and home assessment services will be based on means-testing.

Given that caring for those who are vulnerable, such as mentally ill people, is a mammoth task, I am puzzled that the Government wants to means-test the families and add to their stress.

Caregivers are struggling to cope with the rising cost of living in Singapore. Many have given up their jobs to care for their loved ones.

Since there will be no means-testing for those who will benefit from the Pioneer Generation Package, why are caregivers being subjected to the process?

Let there be no double standards in how we support our elderly sick, the vulnerable and their caregivers.

Raymond Anthony Fernando

Monday, March 3, 2014

Raymond's letter to The Straits Times: Nursing Homes should take in mentally infirm, too

My letter to The Straits Times on the above matter was published on Monday 3rd March 2014.
About a year ago, I approached St Theresa’s Home for assistance in placing my wife in its nursing home should I die before her.

My wife is responding well to treatment for schizophrenia but she also has severe arthritis, which leaves her mobility severely impaired, and I am worried sick that she will not be able to take care of herself.

As my wife’s sole caregiver for 37 years, we both need all the support we can get.

As a contingency plan, I also made similar inquires at St Joseph’s Home in early January.
However, I received a rude shock from the social worker who told me, in a very condescending manner, that the St Joseph’s Home would not take in psychiatric patients because “they cause trouble”.

She also told me of the necessity to go through the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC).
With the AIC now commissioned by the Ministry of Health to assess people wanting to admit loved ones into nursing homes, this places us in a very difficult position as there is far too much red tape.

I have had endless problems with them this year over my 89-year-old mother’s home care. We ended up paying more than $10,000 for her 70 days of hospitalisation.

People with mental illness face a lot of discrimination in their isolated and lonely lives, and this is just one example.

Must my wife end up on the streets when I die because of blatant discrimination and rigid systems?

Raymond Anthony Fernando