Forging a stronger voice for senior citizens

PETALING JAYA: Old folks home operators nationwide will be able to band together to voice out issues faced by the industry under a new association to be formed soon.

Old folks home operator, My Aged Care Sdn Bhd general manager Dadhyanna Tan said currently, there is no umbrella body to represent senior citizen care centres in the country.

She said the company, which runs an assisted living retirement and old folks home here called My Manor, wants to gather a larger voice to raise the industry’s current challenges and elevate the level of services.

“We will register the proposed association with the Registrar of Societies in a month’s time.

“We hope to open up membership to old folks homes and nursing homes nationwide,” she said.

Tan said the proposed association would also be able to unite care centres in line with the proposed Aged Healthcare Act, which seeks to improve the standards of elderly care.

Last week, Sunday Star frontpaged a report that old folks home operators who provide inadequate living quarters for senior citizens will risk being fined or brought to court under the proposed Act.

Overly crammed living spaces, insufficient caregivers for residents and being ill-equipped are among examples of non-compliance under the proposed law and its regulations.

Homes would also have to apply for licences to run their services, be it for fully dependent, semi-dependent, independent residents or a mix of the categories.

Tan said the company had toyed with the idea to form an association over the past two to three months.

“Among the pressing issues we hope to address with the new association is the lack of manpower or caregivers in old folks homes.

“We can’t have maids taking care of old folks. There is a need to introduce a professional caregiving course so that caregivers can be accorded the proper qualifications for their job,” she said.

Tan said the proposed association would also aim to lobby for higher salaries for caregivers to make the profession more attractive and fill the manpower gap in the industry.

Another issue faced by the industry is the small number of registered homes.

“We were told that there are fewer than 200 registered homes in the Klang Valley and this is disheartening,” she said.

Tan said old folks homes had to cough up high fees to get business licences and commercial titles from town councils, causing some centres to evade proper procedures.

“This makes registering such homes an uphill battle,” she said.

Operators of old folks homes and nursing homes who want to be part of the proposed association may contact Tan at My Aged Care’s number at 017-851 7500.

The welfare of senior citizens has also been addressed in the recently tabled Budget 2017, with RM424mil allocated for those in the golden years.

This sum includes senior citizen socio-economic assistance of RM300 monthly.

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