SINGAPORE - All nursing homes here will have to meet higher standards under new rules due to kick in by next year, and most have already taken steps to see where they stand.
More than three in four, or 53 out of 69, have signed up for mock audits to see if they match up in areas such as patient care.
And the results are "encouraging", said the government-linked Agency for Integrated Care (AIC), which runs the assessments.
"Several of (the homes) already have good policies and processes in place for the new domains... and some already exceed the standards," said a spokesman.
Announced last year, the new standards provide more clearly defined benchmarks, including a greater focus on areas such as skin care, oral hygiene and continence management for patients.
One of the homes found to be in good health is Man Fut Tong Nursing Home in Woodlands.
Ms Christina Loh, who took over as nursing director in 2011, completely revamped its internal processes. This included grouping patients on different levels of the home based on their care needs and colour-coding patient folders to speed up workflow.
Also, staff are encouraged to actively engage patients even during routine activities by, for instance, making eye contact. "It's not a factory production line - the patient is not an object," Ms Loh said.
One achievement she takes pride in is having completely eliminated the smell of urine from the home.
"Sometimes, patients pull out their diapers, and we don't know where they've thrown them," she explained. She tackled the problem by adding staff to ensure that incontinent patients had their diapers changed on time.
Apart from conducting assessments, AIC runs staff training courses linked to the new care areas. The overall take-up rate has exceeded 90 per cent since October.
AIC also started a three-month pilot programme at the Villa Francis Home for the Aged to help promote the emotional and social well-being of patients - another new area under scrutiny.
Even exercise sessions turn into an adventure when, for instance, residents needing wheelchairs to get around are encouraged to envision themselves on a train as they move in a circle.
Administrator Maria Sim feels the mock audits come at a good time - just after the home's move to Yishun late last year, from its old premises at Mandai. "Whenever there is a move, it is timely to know what we can do better and what we are lacking," she said.
This article was first published on June 9, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.