It is horrifying to learn of the deplorable conditions in a government-registered welfare home. Over the years there have been stories of abuse in welfare homes, but so far the errant parties were unregistered homes operating without a licence.
Many of us had the impression that licensed welfare homes adhered to certain standards and adopted safeguards imposed by the government. Sadly this is not the case.
To hear the Kinta District Community Welfare Department officer, Noor Hanizah Zulkafli, say they are caged for their own wellbeing and the safety of others just turned my heart cold. We are caging human beings… a group of helpless people who lack the mental capacity to voice out if they are in pain or discomfort. How is this acceptable?
Home chairman R. Sivalingam calls the cages “special cubicles” and says mattresses and pillows are provided. I don’t know about the rest of Malaysia but calling the cages cubicles and providing bedding for them does not make it easier to stomach the conditions at the home.
We are aware of their constraints as most welfare homes operate with limited funds, unqualified and insufficient number of staff. But that does not make the situation acceptable.
We are told that the reasoning behind this is that the residents are aggressive and hurt others. Is there no other solution to overcome this? If aggression is the issue for these residents, can they not get medical assistance from the authorities?
Maybe Ministry of Health should step in on this matter. Or funding in the Budget for OKUs? Can there not be an allocation for this especially as the welfare home is government-registered. Surely, there must be another more humane option.
The residents of the home are orphans referred to the home by the Welfare Department or outsiders who spotted them on the streets or by the hospital after they are discharged often after being involved in accidents.
I fail to see the relevance of this… does this mean that a different standard of care exists for them? Does it matter that they are orphans or vagrants?
The welfare home’s permit has just been renewed for five years on Sept 21 and the State Community Welfare Committee chairman, Datuk Rusnah Kassim, was quoted as saying if the operator failed to fulfil the standard operating procedure the permit would not be renewed.
Do the cubicles comply with the standard operating procedure of the Welfare Department?
Is it judgemental of those without the experience of dealing with disabled children or mentally challenged family members to question the conditions of the home?
It is not right for the welfare department to have accepted the situation and not try to resolve it? Have we evolved into a society that thinks it is acceptable? I pray not.
Source : Shireen Bidari@The Heat Malaysia Online