The ripples of a rapidly ageing population in six years will see a significant impact on all areas foundational to life in Malaysia.
It is a common sight to see hired domestic help assisting an elderly with daily physical needs or a wheelchair bound elderly struggling to enter the neighbourhood sundry shop built with an elevated step at the entrance. However by 2021, this system won’t cut ice any longer with the ageing population booming exponentially and everything from healthcare to policies and infrastructure will be unable to cope with the demand. The issues and challenges that we have turned a blind eye to must be attended to now to address the deficits of aged care not only in the future, but in the very present now. Here are the issues that are in need of a thorough review.
- Human capital – There is a distinct lack of quality caregivers, geriatric doctors and training courses for caregivers and other categories of nurses. What training courses that can be found on caregiving are rudimentary at best and the rapid growth of the aged population necessitates specialised focus on such training. Domestic house keepers, typically seen as the answer in the average Malaysian household, is not a viable option as they do not possess the skill and knowledge on specific caregiving duties such as administration of medicine or wound dressing, etc.
- Infrastructure – An aged-friendly infrastructure is not only built for the physical needs of the elderly. It also acts as the tool that enables the elderly to be contributing participants of society as a result of being able to stay healthy, happy and dignified in the knowledge that the system supports them while preventing the decline into unproductivity due to loneliness and fears of inadequacy.
- Specialised care services – Development of services for people with special needs such as geriatrics, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, mental illnesses and palliative care is essential as they not only serve in addressing physical or mental care. Markets like Singapore, Australia New Zealand, and Japan which have established senior living concepts and industry, understand that such services are the tangible arms of support of an age-supportive infrastructure that go beyond the clinical and well into the emotional being of the aged population.
- Legal aspects – As a result of the current infrastructure, the roles and responsibilities of family members, operators, and enforcement agencies are not clearly defined. Elderly abuse is viewed as domestic violence in Malaysia and is not clear in cases of abandonment or neglect by the family. It remains largely unreported and no law is enacted to address it in definitive parameters. Operators of care centres (under the Care Centre Act 1993) and nursing homes (under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 2006) need to be legally accountable for the care of their charges. Currently, it is common to find care centres and nursing homes indistinguishable from each other with care centres, which are only supposed to care for those with lesser-care needs, also taking in high-care needs patients and the bedridden. The reverse is true for nursing homes.
- Standard operating procedures & enforcement – In Malaysia, a standard operating procedure (SOP) for nursing homes and care centres is seemingly non-existent. It is evident in the line-up of licensed and unlicensed homes and centres that there is no adherence to regulations. Care procedures, along with quality of facilities, types of services offered and fees differ from one centre to another. With the population rapidly ageing, Malaysia needs to enact a standard operating procedure, where end-users will know exactly what to expect from standardised facilities when they pay a certain fee, followed by consistent enforcement of these standards. It is hoped that the situation will be rectified with the introduction of the impending Aged Healthcare Act. The concerns raised are not problems to be dealt with in the future. They are issues that will soon become our very present reality if left unattended. Hence, Aged Care Group, an organisation engaged in the business of elevating and providing aged care services in Malaysia, is organising the Sustainable Retirement & Aged Care conference to address the challenges of Malaysia’s aged care infrastructure and the development of a viable model capable of delivering the highest value of quality aged care to elderly Malaysians.
The issues and challenges that we have turned a blind eye to must be attended to now to address the deficits of aged care not only in the future, but in the very present now.
Aged Care Group is an organisation engaged in the business of elevating and providing aged care services in Malaysia. It seeks to be the frontrunner in all things related to the aged, building on the years of knowledge and experience of its shareholders and management team. With a comprehensive medical and health care system that is available to the general public, solitarily efficient in their respective areas of expertise, Malaysians have managed to get by thus far. We shift our mental ‘gears’ to accommodate different expectations as we enter the various stages and institutions we require for our care.
For more information on the Sustainable Retirement & Aged Care (SRAC) conference, contact Aged Care Group at 03 – 2142 1666 or email email@example.com or visit http://agedcare.com/sustainable-retirementaged-care-conference/
First Published in Smart Investor | October 2015 | Issue 306