More accounts of mistreatment at nursing home

Photo above: Madam CL Tan's sister developed pus-filled boils on her head and lost weight during her stay at the Nightingale home.

Two family members from former patients of Nightingale Nursing Home have spoken up about what their stay had been like.

The nursing home is currently in the spotlight after a video clip showed staff mistreating an elderly woman.

Madam CL Tan, 54, told The Straits Times that her sister - who is now 47 years old - was a resident from 1994 till 2009. Her sister, who was born with cerebral palsy, cannot speak, and suffers from epileptic fits.

Madam Tan said that during her visits to the home in Braddell Road in 2008, Madam Tan saw her sister gesturing vigorously and yelling at certain caregivers.

She noticed soon after that numerous pus-filled boils started forming on her sister's head and she realised that she started to lose weight rapidly.

When Madam Tan approached the management of the home, she was told by the sales and marketing manager that it was normal for patients to vent their frustrations and that her sister had "a habit of rubbing her head against bedding and linen".

Madam Tan showed The Straits Times a letter from the home, denying any bullying or neglect.

In 2009, she spotted a caregiver feeding her sister powdered milk from a can which expired a year before. The police was called in and a report was written.

However, nothing came out of it. Her sister was also sent to the hospital for a check-up and nothing was amiss.

She was then transferred to the Red Cross Home for the Disabled at Bukit Merah, Madam Tan says that her sister seems happy now.

"She has gained weight and laughs all the time. The boils have not returned," said Madam Tan.

She added that the fee at Nightingale Home was $1,050 a month.

'We thought she was being a baby'

Another account from a family member of a former patient came from the granddaughter of a woman seen sitting at the far end of the room in the video that showed staff mistreating a resident.

Ms Anthea Lee, 33, said her 93-year-old grandmother, who was a stroke patient, stayed at the home for about five years. She passed away last week after slipping into a coma.

Ms Lee said her grandmother used to cry and complain when she called her on the phone but Ms Lee was not able to make out what she said.

She also said that her grandmother likes to complain and they thought she was being a baby. But ever since the video incident came to light, Ms Lee and her family are beginning to think that they were wrong.

She did not make a formal complaint.

The Nightingale Nursing Home did not manage to reply The Straits Times by press time.

Not moving

Several family members of current residents told the newspaper that they are not going to move them elsewhere, even though some were concerned after seeing the video.

A 30-year-old man, whose grandmother is a resident, said that she had been treated well so far.

Another family member of a resident also said he had no problems with the home.

"The last time we came, it was all right. I haven't heard any complaints," said Mr Lee FC, 65, whose aunt, a stroke patient in her 70s, is a resident.

Civil servant Oh Ping Huat, 25, said the work attitude of the staff at Nightingale was no different from that of those at other homes.

His father is at Nightingale for about four months while his home is being renovated.

"My father complained that when he asked them to help, like bring a cup of water, they would take their own sweet time," he said.

"But I have experience with other nursing homes; it's also this kind of standard. Certain nurses are willing to do more; I can't expect all nurses to be hardworking."

However, Madam Wee, 66, said she was very upset over what she saw in the video. She said that her mother was at Nightingale Nursing Home and they could not do anything about it, as she is old and they cannot take care of her.

"I don't know what to do; I was so upset I could not even sleep last night. I don't even know where to put my face because I got so many calls from my relatives the whole night," said Madam Wee.

She is currently discussing with her family members whether to move her mother out of the home.

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