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Who cares for you in your final chapter?

Perak, as a state with the largest proportion of aging folks (60 years and above), is likely to witness a boom in homes for the elderly. What is the Government’s role in caring for the old? No role except to pass a law in Parliament?

There are two chapters in your life when you need assistance the most — the first and the last. You are helpless in the first year of your life, and helpless again in your last year. Mother is there at the beginning, but will not be there at the end.

There is a misconception that filial piety obliges adult children to be at home to nurse their sickly end-of-life parents. It used to be that way, but we are no longer a farming society when three-generational farm homes were the norm. Dotted around the neighbourhood would be the homes of uncles, aunties, cousins, and nieces. Aged parents could rely on their adult children or relatives because the farm where they toiled was at most 15 minutes walking distance away. The medicine man also dwelled in the neighbourhood. 

Those agricultural golden-corn days will never return. So who will take care of you in your final chapter? In between infancy and old age, you pay income taxes to sustain the Government unless you’re a freeloader. But when it’s time for the Government to retire you, this is it. The Government is your surrogate adult child, if you’ve been paying your income tax every working year, but it doesn’t want the responsibility of caring for you in your final year.

This arduous job is undertaken by aged care service providers who establish homes set up mostly in converted properties. But without Government assistance, how many private services can meet gold or silver standards? Some weeks ago, a very aged Ipohite at a high-fee home fell in the bathroom-toilet of his room long past midnight.

Perak, as a state with the largest proportion of aging folks (60 years and above), is likely to witness a boom in homes for the elderly. What is the Government’s role in caring for the old? No role except to pass a law in Parliament? 

There are two chapters in your life when you need assistance the most — the first and the last. You are helpless in the first year of your life, and helpless again in your last year. Mother is there at the beginning, but will not be there at the end.

There is a misconception that filial piety obliges adult children to be at home to nurse their sickly end-of-life parents. It used to be that way, but we are no longer a farming society when three-generational farm homes were the norm. Dotted around the neighbourhood would be the homes of uncles, aunties, cousins, and nieces. Aged parents could rely on their adult children or relatives because the farm where they toiled was at most 15 minutes walking distance away. The medicine man also dwelled in the neighbourhood. 

Those agricultural golden-corn days will never return. So who will take care of you in your final chapter? In between infancy and old age, you pay income taxes to sustain the Government unless you’re a freeloader. But when it’s time for the Government to retire you, this is it. The Government is your surrogate adult child, if you’ve been paying your income tax every working year, but it doesn’t want the responsibility of caring for you in your final year.

This arduous job is undertaken by aged care service providers who establish homes set up mostly in converted properties. But without Government assistance, how many private services can meet gold or silver standards? Some weeks ago, a very aged Ipohite at a high-fee home fell in the bathroom-toilet of his room long past midnight. Despite bleeding, he managed to crawl to an SOS button but was noticed by a home staffer only two-and-a-half hours later. 

Is there a government-funded programme to train elderly care nurses for jobs in retirement homes, certify them annually, and conduct performance audit through KPIs and customer feedback? Which authority monitors compliance with standard operating procedures, reviews checklists for building and facilities maintenance, and inspects logbooks recording healthcare duties?

 There will obviously be a wide spread in the quality of facilities, accommodation, and meals as fees differ. But the standard of nursing care should be consistent and stay within an approved bandwidth in all homes. 

Is there a government-funded programme to train elderly care nurses for jobs in retirement homes, certify them annually, and conduct performance audit through KPIs and customer feedback? Which authority monitors compliance with standard operating procedures, reviews checklists for building and facilities maintenance, and inspects logbooks recording healthcare duties?

 There will obviously be a wide spread in the quality of facilities, accommodation, and meals as fees differ. But the standard of nursing care should be consistent and stay within an approved bandwidth in all homes. 

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Joachim Ng

A veteran interfaith researcher and science enthusiast, Joachim Ng has acquired more than 45 years of research experience in studying the world's scriptures and harmonising them with latest scholarly findings in many disciplines especially science and spirituality. In the 1980s, he penned a weekly interfaith column that won him a Promotion of Unity award from the Malaysian Press Institute. In addition to five earlier books, he has delivered papers at international conferences held in New York, Los Angeles, Seoul, Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Assisi near Rome. A Master's degree holder from the University of Hull, UK, he is a former chairman of the Interfaith Spiritual Fellowship and the recipient of an Ambassador for Peace award conferred by the Universal Peace Federation.

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