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Response to “Nursing homes shouldn't keep residents' identity cards” (The Straits Times, 25 June 2019)

The Straits Times
1 July 2019

Consent needed for safe keeping of ICs

We thank Ms Helen Lim for her letter (Nursing homes shouldn't keep residents' identity cards, June 25 ).

It is important for the Government to have up-to-date addresses of persons living in Singapore.

Hence, the National Registration Act requires all NRIC (or IC) holders to report any change in their address to the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority or the police within 28 days of the change. This includes the address of rented properties and nursing homes where the persons may be residing.

However, government agencies do not mandate the safe keeping of the ICs by any party. This includes nursing homes like the ones cited by Ms Lim.

We understand that some residents may request their nursing home to keep their IC so that they would not misplace it. But some nursing homes do it, for reasons like facilitating access to urgent medical services, where valid identification may be required.

In all such cases, the safe keeping of ICs must be done with the consent of the residents or their families.

Should a nursing home do this, it is required under the Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics Act to take reasonable measures to keep the IC safe. We encourage nursing home residents and their families to discuss options for safe keeping possessions such as their ICs with their nursing homes, and to carefully review them, before providing such consent.

Patrick Ong (Supt)
Head of Public and Internal Communications Branch, Corporate Communications Division
Immigration & Checkpoints Authority

Titus Lee
Director, Aged Care Services, Ageing Planning Office
Ministry of Health

<Original Letter>

The Straits Times
25 June 2019

Nursing homes shouldn't keep residents' identity cards

As a caregiver of an elderly parent with advanced dementia and other medical conditions, it breaks my heart to accept institutional care for my parent at a nursing home due to the deterioration of my parent's condition.

Having reached this difficult decision and found a suitable nursing home with bed availability, there are terms required in the application that I find disturbing.

It requires my parent's NRIC address to be changed to the address of the nursing home, and for my parent's original NRIC to be kept by the nursing home.

I was told that this is in accordance with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority's (ICA) policy.

My parent has lived with me for many years, even after my marriage. Being required to surrender the NRIC, with the address being changed to the nursing home's, feels like a cutting off of ties.

I also am concerned about whether there are measures adopted by the ICA to ensure the safekeeping and security of the NRIC as well as that of any personal mail addressed to nursing home residents.

Instead of requiring that the address be changed and the card kept by the nursing home, perhaps a certified copy of the NRIC or a new elderly identity card issued by the Government should be given to the nursing home for identification purposes.

Helen Lim