Officials mismanaged Tai Po nursing home saga and elderly suffered
The most appalling outcome of the Tai Po nursing home incident has been completely ignored by all the righteous good folk commenting on the saga, and that is the complete lack of consultation with the residents as to their views and choices.
They were yanked from familiar surroundings without notice and given no opportunity to indicate if that was what they wanted.
Just because they are elderly does not mean that many are not capable of making decisions on their own behalf. Some may have been happy in the home.
Many certainly would have forged relationships with other residents and with staff members who were familiar with their personalities and quirks.
These ties were abruptly severed and they now find themselves plonked into a strange environment where they have to start all over again
The Social Welfare Department, having been obviously negligent in its supervision of this and other homes for the elderly, suddenly went into overkill mode and good judgment and common sense were abandoned.
While the elderly residents were left waiting with little clothing, they were not abandoned in sub-zero temperatures. This is Hong Kong, the city of prudes and religious bigots after all. Is the sight of exposed flesh that scandalous?
What should have been established is whether the residents were ill treated, beaten or deprived of food, or left in dirty conditions.
Moreover, the loss of clients probably resulted in job losses for staff members, regardless of whether they were involved in the bathing incident.
Even those directly involved should have been given the opportunity to explain why the incident occurred. Was it indeed negligence or the result of lack of manpower?
As for the remarks made by the department that there is ample availability of care home places in the district, the question is, how come, when time and again the media reports that thousands of elderly are dying every year while waiting for a place? The Audit Commission report "Provision of long-term care services for the elderly", published in October, devotes 120 pages to the issue.
The department is obviously not actively engaging with the private sector to resolve this issue.
As we send in our tax returns, many wonder if, in view of revelations of mismanagement, there is any government department fulfilling the duties it is funded to carry out.
Candy Tam, Wan Chai