Industry experts call for better protection for private nurses

Better protection for private nurses will be welcome, given that the home care sector is set to grow in the coming years, said industry experts.

One of them said an example would be to impose standards on firms who employ such nurses.

Currently, not all agencies have standard operating procedures to deal with complaints of abuse or harassment, pointed out Ms K. Thanaletchimi, who is president of the Healthcare Services Employees' Union.

They also may not provide adequate training for nurses on their scope of duties or what constitutes abuse, she added.

As of April this year, Singapore had around 7,500 home care places - double the capacity it had in 2011. The Health Ministry plans to have at least 10,000 home care places by 2020.

Mr Patrick Tay, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Manpower, said that freelance nurses with no agency support should be aware that they may be able to take civil or criminal action against perpetrators of abuse.

He added that they should also take "self-help measures" to assess potential clients before signing on with them, such as making sure that their scope of work is clearly spelt out in their contract.

  • 7.5k

    Number of home care places in Singapore as of April this year.

    10k

    Number of home care places targeted for 2020.

"(They should) state explicitly that any deviation or additional work may only be via mutual agreement... or that further compensation may need to be paid out," he said.

"Generally, nurses are very compassionate and filled with empathy for patients and caregivers," Ms Thanaletchimi said.

"Sometimes, such abuses do not get reported because of their forgiving nature."

She added: "One should not suffer in silence and allow compassion towards patients to be taken advantage of by immoral acts of caregivers and patients."

Linette Lai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 22, 2017, with the headline 'Industry experts call for better protection'. Print Edition | Subscribe