The license of a Thian Leng Old Folks Home, a nursing home located at off Changi Road, has been cancelled after it failed to comply with requirements, including keeping up with COVID-19 precautionary measures.
In a report by the Straits Times (ST), the Ministry of Health (MOH) said that this decision was made last Friday after the nursing home repeatedly defied its licensing requirements, as well as not adhering to COVID-19 safety measures for its residents and staff.
“MOH has noted a rising number of non-compliances since May 2019, resulting in closer monitoring of the home. However, many of these non-compliances continue to remain unresolved during inspections,” the ministry said.
It added, “In 2020, MOH also noted areas of non-compliance related to COVID-19 precautionary measures that were required to be implemented to safeguard staff and residents from the COVID-19 infection.”
This move to revoke the license of the nursing home comes even after MOH provided support and helped the home by seconding professional staff to the 70-bed facility on four different occasions.
The support was given to help strengthen the clinical oversight, care processes and operations, as well as to offer guidance on measures that can be implemented to deal with the home’s shortcomings, MOH noted.
“Despite the assistance provided, we continue to detect lapses in care standards which placed the well-being and safety of their residents at risk. A significant portion of the improvements introduced by the home were also not sustained,” the ministry said.
It continued, “As such, the home’s license has been revoked on July 31, 2020, to ensure the safety and well-being of residents are not put at risk.”
Following the cancellation of the license, other care arrangements were made for all the residents in the home, which includes moving them to different nursing homes. If that’s not all, MOH and the Agency for Integrated Care have also helped staff to be re-employed to other nursing homes.
The chairman of the home’s management committee, Liu Kim Beng, informed ST that there were a total of 60 residents and more than 10 migrant employees who had been transferred to other care facilities.
MOH also stated that the operator can still apply for a new license to manage and run a new nursing home, provided it meets all the requirements.
The manager of the nursing home, Susan Lee, said that the home was informed that its license would be cancelled on 2 June, a day after the end of the circuit breaker period.
“We thought we had rectified the issues and also told the authorities that we would be dealing with of the lapses once the circuit breaker ended,” said Ms Lee.
Some of the COVID-19 related shortcomings were found out during an audit, Mr Liu revealed. They include safe distancing protocols for its residents as well as issues with the format of the forms which visitors have to fill.
“They were technically not so serious… We did now have any COVID-19 cases among our residents and staff,” he explained.
When Mr Liu was asked to explain further on the non-compliance issues that MOH brought up last year, he noted that one of them was about the installation of a fire door.
“We don’t want to comment too much as MOH has already come out with their explanation – we respect that and don’t feel that it is unfair. This is the system, and we will have to follow,” Mr Liu said when asked about the lapses in clinical and care processes that the ministry had pointed out.
Additionally, he also revealed that the home plans to reapply for a license.
“Some family members of residents have been calling to ask when we will get out license back again. So during this period, we will rethink and rework our processes, and make them better,” he said.
With the recent pandemic, nursing homes has become a worry after the Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home was labelled as a cluster in April as 16 of its residents and staff were diagnosed with COVID-19. Following that, strict measures – like barring all visitors from the homes – were implemented to stop the spreading of the virus.
However, the measures have now been relaxed after the country entered the second phase of reopening. Each resident is now allowed to receive one visitor per day for up to 30 minutes.