Home away from home for the elderly folk

  • Letters
  • Wednesday, 27 Feb 2019

MORE than a decade ago, I advised against going ahead with a joint-venture project to develop a retirement village for foreigners. My main concerns then were the language barrier that could emerge between the foreign residents and locals, and lack of hospitality infrastructure conducive to the residents’ daily lifestyle. E-commerce was not in vogue then and there weren’t many online libraries for the foreign residents to access.

In short, just building the physical infrastructure was not enough.

The concept of retirement villages is a popular topic of discussion now even though there is barely a handful of such schemes in existence. Instead, private nursing homes and old folks homes, whether licensed or otherwise, are being set up to meet the demand for caring of our senior population.

I do not doubt the reasons for sending the elderly to nursing homes or old folks homes. Perhaps people think they would receive better care in such homes compared to living with the family.

However, according to the article “Plan now to age well” (StarHealth, Sunday Star, Feb 24), “none of the elderly wants to live in nursing homes.” This should make not only family members but the whole nation as well take note of the situation on the ground.

I came across a research project by a nursing student who interviewed 274 inmates in 13 old folks homes on the quality of their sleep.

The individuals interviewed were also assessed for depression, a health disorder that has been found to be prevalent in 71.8% of people 65 years and older living in care homes in Malaysia.

It was found that 65.3% of them spent a longer time in bed but the duration of sleep was not very long. Reading this, a question came to my mind, “If these seniors had slept at home with the rest of their family, would the duration of sleep be longer?”

When an elderly member of the family has to be placed in a nursing home as a last resort, how would one know which is the right choice? At a conference on aged care services, it was pointed out that only a small number of such homes in Malaysia are licensed.

In our country, such facilities are regulated under the Care Centres Act 1993 and Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 2006. There is no law yet to specifically regulate the aged care industry here.

In Britain, the Department of Health sets out the government’s quality standards for health and social care services for older people. There is a set of standards that need to be met by care home providers, one of which is that an info-memo or prospectus on the home must be available.

Information on the premises, staffing and what to expect in the daily routines and administration, and how emergencies would be handled must be included in the prospectus.

Another regulation requires the management of the homes to undertake a full assessment of the potential inmate’s needs using recognised tools drawn up according to the Department of Health’s guidelines.

In a hypothetical case, if our 93-year-old prime minster needs to be admitted into a nursing home in Malaysia, which aged care facility would our deputy prime minister, who also oversees the portfolio of aged care, recommend?


Petaling Jaya

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Opinion , Letters; geriatric care


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