The Straits Times
Published on Nov 26, 2012

Elderly-friendly medical care: Family members have role to play


I COMMEND SingHealth's initiative to address concerns faced by patients, especially the elderly, at public hospitals and polyclinics ("Tips to offer more friendly medical care for seniors"; last Saturday).

While facilities can be made more elderly-friendly, there are other aspects to be considered, such as family involvement.

Caring for older patients, who need assistance in one form or another, should be the medical staff's responsibility as well as the family's.

A senior would feel more at ease if there is a family member around to help inform the doctor about matters such as the patient's medical history, treatment and medication.

Nurses and assistants are often sources of valuable information and support; they may explain things to the patient better than the doctor.

To this end, it would be good to have a department for patients to seek advice while waiting to see the doctor.

To ensure users benefit from such elderly-friendly amenities, family members can play an important role by accompanying seniors to the clinic or hospital.

This will free up health-care staff to attend to other matters.

Jeffrey Law