Nursing homes: Patients' happiness, dignity just as important as safety

I was relieved to hear that the Good Shepherd Loft (GSL) nursing home has been allowed to continue operations ("Troubled nursing home escapes closure"; Nov 26).

The home has received positive feedback from the family members of residents. I was heartened to see that in the photo accompanying the news report, the patients were in their own clothes rather than in a standard uniform.

The founders of GSL have also set up an assisted living facility, St Bernadette Lifestyle Village, which pioneers a model of care not yet commonplace locally - that which seeks to preserve the seniors' autonomy while providing supervised care. These two facilities seem to prioritise the personhood and dignity of the aged.

While safe medical care is certainly important, it should not be the raison d'etre for the ideal nursing home, which should allow the occupant to retain personhood and age gracefully.

I hope that the Ministry of Health will relook its audit process to encompass this broader vision of what a nursing home should be, along the lines of the suggestions given in the Safe But Soulless report on nursing homes ("Growing old: Should you be worried?"; Nov 6).

Best practices should not only be couched in medical phraseology but also in how happy the patients and staff are, how much quality of life and autonomy are prioritised, and in the dignity and respect given to the occupants.

Joanna Chan Shi-En (Dr)