IN Malaysia, there doesn’t seem to be a uniform standard operating procedure (SOP) for nursing homes and care centres.
It is quite noticeable in the licensed and unlicensed homes and centres that there is no adherence to regulations in terms of quality, types of services offered and fees.
Currently, the Care Centre Act 1993 (Act 506) regulates the care centres and it is under the purview of the Welfare Department; while the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 2006 (Act 586), under the Ministry of Health, regulates nursing homes.
However, not all facilities are registered. In addition, the facilities, services and prices are quite varied.
A nursing home or care centre can go from a simple house with a few staff to man the place and no activities or medical personnel, to a fully furnished building with ample activities, services and skilled medical personnel.
Each home and centre is unique and different from the next one.
Some do not even have a head of nursing and registered nurses, which are requirements by the Ministry of Health for nursing homes.
Families paying the annual or monthly fee have no idea what they should get for that price range, nor what they can get if they pay less or more.
This is like going to a hotel and not being sure if you are even going to get the basic facilities (like a shower and air-cond), let alone Wifi and TV.
Like hotels, the nursing homes and care centres should offer a standard range of quality, services and prices. The variation in fees would determine if a home is a three-star, four-star or five-star facility.
This is a situation that the Ministry of Health is aware of and wants to rectify.
It is hoped that with the introduction of the Aged Healthcare Act, which the Ministry is now fine-tuning, there will be a uniform standard of quality care for the elderly. This new Act will also see both the nursing homes and care centres being regulated by the same piece of legislation.
Much is expected of the impending Aged Healthcare Act. However, the existing Acts also need to be improved to provide better protection for the elderly and their families as demand for such services and facilities continues to increase. Currently, Malaysians are paying for services and facilities that are not on par with their needs, and without the proper legal framework, they have no protection.
In matured markets like Australia and New Zealand, which have long establised the senior living concept and industry, the laws are stringent and enforcement is rigorous.
Families know the range of services being offered as well as the fee structure. The nursing homes and care centres adhere to these standards which are set by the government.
This is something Malaysia needs to achieve soon, because our country is running out of time. The population is rapidly ageing.
Not only is there a need for uniformity in services and prices offered by nursing homes and care centres, but there also needs to be enforcement of these standards.
By having standardised facilities, services and fees, families will not be confused when trying to locate the right centre or home for their loved one.
They will know what to expect when they pay a certain fee, rather than a situation where anything goes, which is what is happening now.
They will also have peace of mind knowing that their beloved parents or grandparents are getting the best quality care and are living in an environment that offers all the necessary facilities, personnel and skills to care for them on a daily basis.
Aged Care Group (ACG) is organising the Sustainable Retirement & Aged Care (SRAC) conference on Oct 22, 2015, at the Majestic Hotel, Kuala Lumpur. The theme is “A Shared Synergy Towards an Integrated Ecosystem”. To find out more and to register, go to http://agedcare.com.my/sustainable-retirement-aged-care-conference/.