Good Shepherd Loft's licence extended 3 months until early 2017

SINGAPORE - A nursing home has successfully appealed to continue operations after warnings for previously flouting regulations.

Its licence was extended for three months following a Ministry of Health (MOH) surprise inspection in November, a Ministry spokesman told The Straits Times on Friday (Nov 25).

The Good Shepherd Loft (GSL), which had until Nov 28 to make alternative care arrangements for its 29 residents, will no longer have to do so.

"MOH conducted an unannounced inspection and noted that the Good Shepherd Loft had taken pro-active actions to rectify the areas of concerns," she said.

She added: "Since the last inspection, there were no further findings of nursing aides giving any form of injections. Several care protocols were also reviewed and put in order."

Issues with the 33-bed nursing home in Bukit Timah came to light after it received written warnings for breaching patient-safety regulations.

In an inspection visit in January, the Health Ministry found that nursing aides there were giving insulin injections. In September, it visited the home again and found that nursing aides were giving medicine intravenously to a resident.

Nursing aides are not qualified nurses under the Nurses and Midwives Act and injections may be given only by a nurse registered with the Singapore Nursing Board.

"MOH is gravely concerned with GSL's persistent unsafe practice," said a ministry spokesman.

Speaking to The Straits Times last weekend, Dr Belinda Wee, co-founder of the nursing home, said its nursing aides stopped giving subcutaneous insulin injections in late March.

The intravenous injections were no longer administered after Sept 6.

"Now, all injections are given by doctors or registered nurses," said Dr Wee.

She said the intravenous injections were given over five days in September to relieve the symptoms of a patient who had chest infection.

This took place thrice a day.

"A doctor gave the first three doses," she said, while registered nurses gave some injections in the day.

Nursing aides gave "some of the late-night doses when the registered nurses were not on duty", she added.

These were prepared beforehand and given through a micro-drip.

She apologised to the Health Ministry for the breaches.

She said the home's nursing aides have Institute of Technical Education healthcare certification and in-house training by doctors and registered nurses on the injection techniques and safety practices.

"We hope that we can make amends with them and carry on working with them and looking after our seniors," she said.

The MOH said: "The (Good Shepherd Loft) has been asked to seek assistance for peer sharing of best practices and engage peer auditions to ensure appropriate care systems are in place."

It cannot admit new residents during this time and MOH will review its licence again in early 2017.

byseow@sph.com.sg