SINGAPORE - The man who had secretly filmed his mother's alleged mistreatment at the Nightingale Nursing Home said that she had been complaining to him for about three years.
The 41-year-old, who wanted to be known only as Mr Zhuo, told Shin Min Daily News his mother's complaints prompted him to put a hidden video camera disguised as a clock by his mother's bed.
He said: "I saw that two nurses were helping my mother take a bath. They took off my mother's clothes and left her sitting in a chair for half an hour. In this time, a fan was blowing in her direction."
He said the nurses did not help his 75-year-old mother, identified as Madam Bai, put her clothes back on after the bath.
Said Mr Zhuo: "Now I know why my mother is always saying she is cold in the mornings."
She had also claimed that the nurses would throw her on the bed and beat her when she groaned in pain. When contacted by The New Paper about Mr Zhuo's latest claims, Nightingale declined comment.
The video was handed to the Ministry of Health (MOH) by MediaCorp, which received it in March, according to a Channel 8 broadcast on Thursday. MOH then launched an investigation.
Mr Zhuo recorded the footage in March. The home described the incident as isolated and said it has disciplined the three staffers.
MOH suspended the home from admitting new patients until further notice from April 12.
Mr Zhuo has since moved his mother to a home in Marsiling and is arranging for her to live with him.
MOH said the video recording was given to it on March 22. Investigations started immediately. They included verifying the authenticity of the incident and interviews with everyone from the patient, the patient's family members to the home's management.
MOH suspended Nightingale from admitting new patients even as investigations were ongoing. And Nightingale was asked to show cause within 14 days on why its licence should not be revoked by MOH.
In late April, Nightingale told MOH of the measures taken to improve patient care and additional steps to prevent any recurrence of abuse of residents, and the disciplinary actions taken against the staff involved.
Said an MOH spokesman: "The investigation and follow-up actions took time as MOH must be satisfied that patients at (Nightingale) are adequately protected.
"MOH is still closely monitoring the home with regular unannounced inspections, including interviews with patients and checks on care delivered by staff, to ensure that the measures are properly implemented and sustained."
Other patients satisfied
MOH said it receives 12 to 15 pieces of feedback and complaints each year on nursing homes. The most common ones relate to poor customer service such as rude staff, miscommunication and unsatisfactory standards of care by staff.
Some relatives of Nightingale patients said they were satisfied with the level of care there. A retiree who wanted to be known only as Madam T has had her friend at the home for the past year.
She said: "In my experience, the nurses have been very nice, very caring. I don't know why this happened. There must have been a misunderstanding."
"People have to remember that nurses are human too. We must take pity on them because sometimes they may be stressed."
But civil servant Oh Ping Huat, 25, said his 75-year-old father had complained that the staff members are not very caring.
His father has been temporarily placed in the home for the past three months as Mr Oh's house is under renovation.
He said: "Sometimes my father will ask them to do something or ask them for a cup of water and they will take a long time to help.
"But at the same time, I feel that this (video) might make the home take the steps to improve its living conditions."
Nightingale charges $1,200 to $1,600 a month to house a patient.
The Nightingale Group, which runs three other nursing homes, has been operating for more than 30 years.
MOH said it conducts regular inspections of all nursing homes to ensure compliance with the mandatory licensing requirements.
Its inspectors ensure, among other things, that the nursing homes are properly maintained, their patient records are in order and they institute effective infection control measures.
Nursing home operators must also maintain care standards on medication administration, fall rates and housekeeping.
Homes that don't meet the required standards or which need closer monitoring for any other reason will be subject to more regular audits. MOH will also guide them on how to improve their performance.
For any breach in care delivery and standards, the public can call MOH QSM hotline at 1800-225 4122.
This article was first published in The New Paper.