Singapore

Documentary offers glimpse into realities of life in nursing home

Documentary offers glimpse into realities of life in nursing home
Popular TV presenter Anita Kapoor, seen here in a still from the documentary, spent two weeks in a nursing home to document what life was really like there.
Published: 10:40 PM, January 18, 2017
Updated: 12:04 PM, January 19, 2017

SINGAPORE — During the two weeks she spent at a nursing home, television host and caregiver Anita Kapoor could feel her dignity being stripped away.

A 70-minute documentary on her experience, Anita’s Nursing Home Stay, was released online on Wednesday (Jan 18) to offer viewers a rare glimpse into the day-to-day realities of nursing home life in Singapore. It was commissioned by the Lien Foundation.

Ms Kapoor volunteered to spend two weeks as a resident at the Salvation Army’s Peacehaven Nursing Home, where she would be treated as a person who could not walk, suffers from mild dementia, and has incontinence as well as problems swallowing.

Throughout her stay at the nursing home, Ms Kapoor was moved around in a wheelchair, slept in a six-bed ward, wore adult diapers, ate functional food, and even had someone else bathe her.

Treated as someone who has a high risk of falls, she also had to wear a body jacket that tied her onto the bed to prevent her from falling off the bed.

By capturing the perspective of a “user”, the documentary aims to raise awareness of what goes on within the walls of nursing homes, and to shed light on the issues that have been kept in the dark.

“The best way to start a conversation (on the subject of nursing homes) is to disrupt the status quo,” said Ms Kapoor.

The current system, she believes, is focused only on results.

“My greatest wish is that dialogue happens between Ministry of Health, between all of the elderly care facilities because there are tons of different kinds of ways in which we can improve the system ... such as designing of space, communication with people in the homes and around homes...and more staff are needed,” she said.

Lien Foundation has also proposed a Consumer Charter promoting a new philosophy of care that aims to give residents of nursing homes greater dignity, autonomy, and privacy. The charter will also list out the rights and responsibilities of residents in these homes.

Mr Gabriel Lim, the foundation’s programme director, hopes that the documentary and the proposed charter will initiate deeper conversations among the public on the changes that need to be implemented in nursing homes here.

Around 12,000 residents live in 70-odd nursing homes in Singapore, and the numbers are rising.

Lien Foundation is inviting the public to view the documentary, share their eldercare experiences, and provide feedback on the draft of the Consumer Charter at www.nursinghomes.sg.