As the Chairman of the Association for Aged Care Operators of Malaysia, Vice President of WAFIQ and Founder of Elderly Care Academy Darul Insyirah, I’ve read your report below; https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/08/06/theres-no-compassion-for-the-elderly-first-abandoned-by-their-families-now-homes-35-senior-citizens/ with deep regret and sorrow.
I would like to address this issue which has not received due attention, despite we are heading towards Ageing Nation 2030. The overall care of our elder citizens are still at substandard level. The utmost main problem faced by the operators of the Aged Care industry on leading to the abandonment of the elderly home in Malacca, in my opinion is due to the lack of financial assistance and the lack of properly skilled manpower, human resources to professionally and lovingly care for the elderly.
Why the scarcity of manpower? It is because operators have to compete with other industries to get qualified caretakers, which provide better salaries and conducive working conditions to the potential nurses. The operators of the elderly homes face tremendous hurdles to offer better pay as running an elderly home is basically operating a full well quipped rehabilitation centre which requires a lot of financial capacities.
With minimal support from the government, whose elderly care institutions could not cope with the demand, privately owned ones run by good Samaritans are stepping in to fill up the gap. But private owners who run these type of homes are severely at a deficit at the end of the month. They try nevertheless to take in elderly after much plead by hospitals and officers from social services department knowing very well it’s a costly affair.
We couldn’t afford to turn a blind eye, with the fact that we Malaysians are going to face an Aging Nation by 2030. It requires a holistic synergisation of teamwork between government agencies, operators, academicians, psychologists, occupational therapists, policy makers, developers, psychiatrists and nursing providers. We definitely need to sit down and come out with a constructive model that would benefit the society as a whole.
I would also like to suggest to the government to start a training academy or, giving grants to operators to run such trainings. A twinning programme with existing colleges or universities specialised in nursing and geriatric care is very much desired.
Caring for the elderly has to be perceived as a vibrant and professional career. Due incentives has to be modelled out to lure more manpower and investors to be better involved in this aging care industry.
If Child Care Centres are made available in various places, so do Day Care Centres for the elderly, which must be made available and affordable in communities, surrounded by familiar environments to them eg mosques, temples, parks. This is to avoid them being neglected hence requiring being totally institutionalised 24 hours a day.
If the government and the society as a whole does not take heed of this, we will face more closures of such old folk homes, more abandonment of the elderly and WHO prediction that in 2040 Malaysia will become a childless and destitute Aging Nation will be a gruesome reality.
Hjh Asral Widad Ahmad Asnawi
Chairman of the Association for Aged Care Operators of Malaysia
Vice President of WAFIQ
Founder of Elderly Care Academy Darul Insyirah