Davis Ks Ong, a local citizen had shared in a Facebook post his concern of how the well-being of elders in this country is not being taken seriously. Mr Ong proceeded to share the story of his father-in-law, Mr Ang Rong Sheng who was placed in a local nursing home on 29th July 2016.
A stroke patient with multiple conditions, Mr Ang was mobile, active and could walk with assistance. However, he needed constant care that Mr Ong’s family was not equipped to provide, which is why they decided to place him in a nursing home where they believed his needs would be met.
However, after only 20 days in the nursing home, Mr Ong and his family noticed a steady deterioration of Mr Ang’s health. In some photos that he shared, Mr Ong pointed out bed sores, muscle atrophy, and severe weight loss. When the family asked the nurses about whether he’s eating or why he looks tired, they say “he always didn’t finish his food”, or “he always like that”.
On 18th August, Mr Ang was rushed to A&E. He was non-responsive and was diagnosed as being severely dehydrated. The family was told to prepare for the worst.
Mr Ong’s family then decided to file reports against the nursing home to Ministry of Health and the police. They also wrote to KV Capital who held 100% interest in the home at the time.
The Chief Operation Officer of KV capital replied a few days later to reveal that they nursing manager has resigned (or possibly was asked to resign), the nursing staff overseeing his father-in-law Mr Ang also resigned, and that there were no records of the late Mr Ang’s food or fluid intake or output (which is a requirement).
After checking CCTV footage, the family also learned that Mr Ang was not brought out to the dining hall for at least two weeks, with the home claiming that they feed him at his bedside but there are no records to prove that.
In the end, the nursing home admitted their fault in writing and offered the family compensation in terms of paying for the hospital bill and waiving holding charges.
However, Mr Ong’s father-in-law remained non-communicative and now required full-time care. He was completely bed-bound and depended on tube feeding. His quality of life basically plummeted and stay there until his passing on 19th August 2018. The financial burden and emotional stress on the family also increased.
In his post, Mr Ong said that the police had told him that they are unable to file a criminal case, saying that there’s is only “possible negligence”. However, the MOH has yet to reply to Mr Ong about investigations into this matter, receiving only a standard response for the past two years telling him to “await further investigations”.
Quoting what the MOH investigation officer shared during his interview and statement sharing session with Mr Ong’s wife, they were told that the “piles of files” in his office were “cases from more than two years ago with pending investigations”.
Understandably, Mr Ong questioned in his post, “Does that mean that two years is not long enough to warrant a proper conclusive investigation to possible negligence that has caused a patient much suffering, indirectly (or directly) leading to his demise?”
Mr Ong criticized the reluctance of the MOH to conduct a proper, full investigation and worries that similar cases are falling through the cracks as they fail to capture the attention of authorities. “If the MOH’s objective is to ensure quality care for our aging population, this lack of accountability speaks the total opposite,” said Mr Ong.
He had also mentioned PM Lee, MOH Minister Gan Kim Yong, AIC Chief Jason Cheah, and other MOH officials Amy Khor, Lam Pin Min, Edwin Tong, Amrin Amin, in the Facebook post.
When he first posted about this matter online, the comment section was flooded with people putting the blame on his family for sending Mr Ang to a nursing home in the first place, saying that they were the ones being negligent and not taking care of their elders.
But Mr Ong explained that as they are a full working family, the only person at home is the helper and two young kids who cannot manage an aggressive male. Considering that and his father-in-law’s multiple conditions, nursing care was the best option for them. And he also reiterated that multiply members of the family visited with Mr Ang regularly at the home, which is how they noticed his deterioration.
He said, “No one would ‘dump’ parents in a home given possible circumstances. Throughout the entire journey, my wife was the main caregiver (including financially), juggling between her duties as a wife, mother, daughter and commitment to various charity causes(…)Hope comments can be kinder because you won’t know what we had gone through to get here today.”
Mr Ong and his family are only seeking closure and, for proper and just investigation findings to be shared. The family have also planned to take up a case in court with the nursing home.
The photos shared by Mr Ong would shock anyone.
Just how fast Mr Ang’s condition declined in less than a month is baffling. The fact that there are bed sores and muscle atrophy show just how terribly he was cared for. There was obviously no exercise or proper feeding done at all in the time he was placed there and the nursing home basically admitted their fault in failing to provide proper care.
MOH’s lack of response and excuses for why the investigation is taking so long is inexcusable in a society that claims to care for and respect their elders.