Sun, Feb 19, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Lawmaker urges stricter nursing home regulations

CARELESS A legislator questioned regulations governing nursing homes following charges of severe neglect at a top-rated home in Tainan

By Jean Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

A woman points to a series of X-rays at a press conference called by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Huang Wei-cher demanding stricter regulations in nursing homes.

PHOTO: CHEN TSE-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

A legislator yesterday called for stricter nursing home regulations after family members of a senior citizen staying at a Tainan County nursing home accused the home of severe neglect.

The victim's daughter, surnamed Lin, said her mother started staying at the nursing home in February of last year.

According to the nursing home contract, patients are to be bathed, helped to exercise and cared for full-time, Lin said.

However, Lin said her mother had only spent two months in the nursing home when family members discovered that she had bruises, bedsores and bone fractures.

Lin's mother also suffered a stroke while in the home, losing the ability to speak and the use of her arms, yet staff at the home did not notice for days, Lin charged.

"A foreign worker there tried to tell the staff that something was wrong with my mother, but they told her to `keep quiet' and said that she didn't understand the situation," Lin said.

She said that the family was not satisfied with the nursing home's handling of the case, and that two meetings with the nursing home have not yielded any conclusion.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) yesterday said this was not the first time nursing home services have been questioned in recent years.

This particular nursing home had in fact received top ratings from the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) and a civic group, Huang said.

Lin said the family had originally chosen the nursing home because of its high rating.

Better regulations need to be made for these homes to ensure that senior citizens are taken care of, he added.

A Department of Health (DOH) official said that nursing homes are for senior patients who do not need immediate medical attention.

While there is currently no regulation requiring nursing homes to hire full-time medical personnel, he said, they should at least have doctors who can conduct periodic checkups and nurses to provide long-term care, he added.

Chen Shu-chuen (陳素春), section chief of the MOI's social affairs department, said local governments are in charge of inspecting nursing homes in their vicinity.

The ministry only conducts inspections every three years to evaluate nursing homes, Chen said.

The Tainan County government is currently looking into the case and has not yet made a decision on the matter, she said.

Chen said that the ministry will urge local governments to conduct stricter inspections of nursing homes.

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