Sun, Oct 16, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Nursing homes are unsafe, insanitary: foundation

By Jean Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Consumers' Foundation revealed yesterday the results of its recent inspections on nursing homes around the country and denounced the unsanitary conditions, cramped rooms and lack of safety facilities.

According to the Department of Social Affairs at the Ministry of the Interior (MOI), there are currently around 900 legally registered nursing homes, but the Consumers' Foundation questioned whether these were regularly inspected.

Out of the 28 nursing homes inspected by the foundation, 22 were over two stories high, six of which did not even have elevators, making it extremely inconvenient for the elderly to move around within the buildings.

One of the nursing homes said that although they had no elevators, they had a caregiver carry the residents up and down the stairs.

The foundation also questioned the safety facilities inside nursing homes. According to MOI regulations, there must be wheelchair ramps installed on the stairs and anti-slip flooring in bathrooms.

However, according to the foundation, 19 of the homes did not even have staircase railings and 15 did not have ramps installed.

MOI regulations also state that each nursing home room must allow at least an average of 2.117 ping (7m3) for each person, but only 6 of the 28 inspected fulfilled the regulations. One nursing home even had an average of merely 1 ping per person.

The foundation found that even though regulations say that there should be one doctor for every 15 patients, some nursing homes had already surpassed that number, with one home using one doctor to look after 70 patients.

Tang Yun-ming (唐雲明), chairman of the fire science department at Wu-feng Technological Institute and a board-member of the foundation, said that many nursing homes had storage items blocking the emergency exits that would pose a great risk in the event of a fire.

"They [nursing homes] have neither adequate safety facilities nor enough caregivers to guide the patients during an emergency," Tang said.

With the rising number of people over 65 years old in the country and the increasing amount of people that need care, the government should better manage, inspect and subsidize nursing homes, the foundation said.

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