Friday, November 11, 2011

Elderly Institutional Care Review

The teacher was both exasperated and embarrassed. She was leading her troop of primary school tiny tots to visit single room flats, an exercise in altruism intended to inculcate empathy for the less fortunate. But the little brat refused to step through the doorway, saying the room smells funny. Fortunately the septuagenarian occupant was hard of hearing, and was spared the hurtful remark.

But the kid was still a kid, with all his needs attended to by his doting parents. At the other end of the age spectrum, the senior citizen was supposed to be taken care of by the younger generation, her own children if she had any. Even a brief social visit was welcome palliative for her lonely existence.

Most of the nursing homes in Singapore are staffed by foreign workers, with filipinas in dominance because of their literacy in English. These are also relatively younger than their elderly charges. While they go about their assigned duties professionally, distributing medication or disposing of soiled adult pampers, not all of them have the empathy to dispense. The video footage of an old woman being abused by the staff of Nightingale Nursing Home at Braddell Road may have shocked some Singaporeans, but the harsh reality is that it is probably a more common occurrence than anyone would care to admit. The young foreign nurses have their own set of growing up pains, be it boyfriend problems or just scrounging enough money to send home. The ideal caregiver would be a Singaporean nurse in her retirement years. She has the skills and the mindset to care for someone who could be a contemporary of her own mother, or grandmother. Apparently these are not in short supply, but they have a niche market in being highly paid private nurses, caring for the well-off in their luxurious private residences.

Speaking at the conference organised by the Centre of Enable Living (CEL), Chan Chun Sing said "We know in the Asian context and culturally, we frown upon moving into institutional care. We think that it is against our values of filial piety to put your parents in the institutional home." Hence the government initiatives to build "Senior Service Centres" where the elderly are supposed to provide emotional support for their own kind, presumably for those who can feed, wash and clean up after themselves. The old looking after the old. It makes sense. Then he suggests something more in character with his unfathomable logic: use the new media and create one-minute YouTube videos on care giving to improve home care for the elderly. Honestly, I don't know what to say.


  1. Chan is an obedient dog, whose lack of talents but mastery at bootlicking is becoming obvious to more and more people each day.
    Throughout his career, people wonder about his high CEP. Maybe LKY just likes obedient dogs.

  2. The Minister mentioned was a professional soldier before he was brought into the Cabinet. And not forgetting that he was a general(rank), he was probably chauffered everywhere and served his meals too. Other than bathing himself, he had the authority to make orders for every other of his needs.
    FOR HIM TO BE ABLE TO UNDERSTAND AND EMPATHIZE WITH THE LONELY OLD AND SICKLY PEOPLE; I say, let us salute him, keep up the good work Mr Minister.


  3. Does anyone know how do elderlies in the USA spend their time? Why is it that the Americans are expected to and able to live through their retirement life without their kids at all; while Chinese are thinking for the whole life for youngsters to take care of them? Why do people expect such radically different demands in the world?

    Apparently, I used to be taught by a lecturer who had spent years living in the States. He told me that the kids there are expected to be very independent once they are out of high schools. Moreover, the attitude of the parents there is that they want to have their own married life without the disturbance of kids. The Chinese concept of "filial piety" is totally not working over the Pacific Ocean.

    Thus, I think that Singapore should steer away from the Chinese culture that exerts many unreasonable demands on our youngsters. We should not burden our kids, both physically and emotionally. It is sad to see many who are overly reliant on their kids.

    It is time for the Government to take greater responsibility for elderly issue rather than to shove it under the banner of "Asian traditional values".

  4. To do away with ones'(ethnic)culture is to dilute ones' heritage to put it in a nice way.

    To put it in a 'not nice' way or even offensive to some; is to bastardize ones' own ethnic(cultural) origin.


  5. PAP loves "Asian values". Asian values means you die your business, your kids look after you, you look after your parents, no subsidies and no handouts, respect those in power, respect the rich as they are better and more capable than you, know your place, "wu dua wu suay", I tell you jump, you just jump like got spur stuck in your ass, don't waste my time asking me how high to jump, just jump. If I rule Singapore, I will also follow Asian values. Privatise the privileges and socialise the sacrifices.

  6. The Day the Orientals do away with filial piety is the Day their tribes are doomed. Filial piety is the pillar of Chinese and other Asian Society. It is also Universal Value.
    Children i angmo countries are just as respectful of their parents, the only difference with angmo culture is that their governments fulfill their duties to care for their citizens.

    Children are produce, care for and love by their parents all their live, it is not only fair for children to take care of their parents and grandparents to the best they could. IT IS THEIR DUTIES TO DO SO. Having said that, anyone wishing to 'liberate' and deviate from the tradition can go ahead, their successors maybe relieve of their burdens too, if that is what one chooses. But to call for an abandonment of something traditional for thousands of years, better think through carefully.

    Me am a son, a father and a grandfather, an uncle and I was a grandchild before that.


  7. Wow... just look at 'em crazies prostrating after your daily musings!

    Seriously it was one sensible thing said so far by the general. We are quite fortunate to be able to rely on the civil service to pick up the slack where leaders are found wanting, and a leader who recognizes good ideas despite frequent misses.

  8. There are lots of misconception about the west on values of filial piety. The west people also have their value of filial piety that is no different from the East. In fact, different races in this world have the same concept of filial piety, including most animals. The different between the west and the east is that the west has the concept of respecting individual choice, whereas the east respect the collective choice. That is why there are human rights, animal rights in the west and lack in the east. Respecting individual choice actually implies democracy that leads to freedom of speech and information.

    On the other hand, not many east people really understand their own culture, especially those Singaporeans who are bastardized own ethnic(cultural) origin and worship the west. The ruling politicians like Asian culture not because they truly understand it but just to use it to make ruling easy and to perpetuate their rule.

  9. Kee Chiu will be the downfall of the PAP. He clearly belongs to the despotic past, not the future that this country needs.

  10. It's ok if he is going to cause the pappies downfall. My worry is that if he is allowed to continue gaining more power, Singapore's downfall
    is all but assured!!

  11. Remember he was shameless in manipulating the clueless uncles & aunties. Now he says he wants to care more for them.

    A few packets of free drinks & food ? Let's see for ourselves how he really is going to do it ?

  12. Patriot,

    With a birth rate near 1.0, you can't reasonably expect an individual to support 2 parents and possibly 4 grandparents, in addition to his own child!

    This scheme is simply not sustainable. Further, you can't really legislate love.

  13. Hi Amused;

    legislating love never ever cross my mind yet.
    Love for ones' kin, kith and fellow man is natural, it cannot be made much less legislate.
    whether or not possible due to circumstances, maximum effort and sacrifice MUST BE MADE by any individuals to those that created them and those that they create.



    Thank You Dear Amused for the Interaction, btw, the Birth Rate in Sin has been badly affected by past and present policies and we know that our leaders are responsible for the sad situation.


  14. Patriot,

    I sincerely think you are asking a lot of the young when you are not even willing to raise 2 children! ("you" = Singaporean)

    To me, that is very selfish and imposes unnecessary guilt and burden on the young.

    It's best to leave the decision of taking care of one's parents to the individuals and families involved. My advice is for everyone to plan for his old age. Of course the government should provide a safety net for the old (and the underprivileged.)

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