Nursing homes have made efforts to raise standards

While there may be a need for more eldercare options, our experience has been that not everyone prefers single rooms ("Nursing needs"; last Thursday).

During the Lions Home Inaugural Nursing Home Conference 2015, residents from various nursing homes said that they preferred not to stay in a room on their own because they were brought up in an extended family and were used to having people around them.

They spoke of their fear of being alone, and many of us can share stories which affirm that loneliness is one of the biggest fears for the elderly. This can strike regardless of generation or accommodation type.

At a glance, care models of other countries may seem attractive. However, these come at a cost.

As charity organisations dependent on public donations, we need to be prudent.

More studies are needed to understand and to represent the preferences of seniors and the sustainability of various care options.

As service providers, we acknowledge some of the challenges highlighted.

However, many homes have made progress in improving care despite limited resources, through the support of donors, committed volunteers and dedicated staff.

Being branded in one sweep as "soulless" in the Safe But Soulless study on nursing homes, commissioned by the Lien Foundation and Khoo Chwee Neo Foundation - despite our collective efforts to improve the quality and standard of nursing homes - is difficult to accept.

In particular, we firmly believe that the social well-being of our residents is equally important, and we have made many improvements in this area.

Many homes have committed volunteers who interact regularly with residents - by befriending them, and through "kopitiam" sessions and karaoke.

Residents also have the choice to participate in various music and art therapy activities. Special arrangements are also made in some homes for bedridden residents to enjoy outdoor activities.

More resources could be given to support these efforts.

Indeed, we should focus our efforts on how we care for residents and treat them with dignity, respect and trust - as, at the end of the day, this is what will make the difference.

S. Devendran
Chief Executive
Sree Narayana Mission (Singapore)

This letter carries the signatures of representatives from Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital, Lions Home for the Elders, Man Fut Tong Nursing Home, Moral Home for the Aged Sick and Singapore Christian Home.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2016, with the headline 'Nursing homes have made efforts to raise standards'. Print Edition | Subscribe