We agree that the safety, dignity and quality of life of nursing home residents must be safeguarded (Nursing homes must highlight pros and cons of restraints, by Mr Francis Chan Kum Chew, Aug 17; and Moral imperative to treat vulnerable seniors with dignity, by the Singapore Hospice Council, Aug 18).
The Ministry of Health has worked with the sector to develop and implement the Enhanced Nursing Home Standards (ENHS) which outlines the standard and quality of care to be provided for all nursing home residents in a safe and dignified manner.
Under the ENHS, restraints should be used only as a last resort, when other less restrictive strategies have been unsuccessful.
It must be initiated by a registered nurse, with details clearly documented in the resident's care plan. Any long-term use of restraints must also be reviewed regularly by a registered medical practitioner.
The Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) also facilitates regular training collaborations between nursing homes and hospitals as part of ongoing quality improvement efforts for nursing homes.
These training programmes cover various aspects of clinical and social care, including alternatives to using restraints, fall prevention, person-centred care and engaging persons with dementia to reduce the need for restraints.
The AIC is also working with nursing homes to provide a safe, supportive and accessible environment for their residents and to create dedicated living areas for dementia residents.
More homes now have gardens and paths, quiet rooms and reminiscence spaces for use by their residents, including those with dementia.
Nursing homes are also leveraging technology to monitor residents at risk of falls in a less obtrusive manner, such as bed sensors that alert care staff when residents leave their beds.
The community care sector can also tap the Healthcare Productivity Fund for improvement projects that leverage technology.
We will continue to work closely with our community care partners to improve the delivery of care to enable our seniors to live and age well with dignity.
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Agency for Integrated Care