Can I sue a nursing home for elderly abuse in Singapore?

Last updated on June 26, 2011

Singaporeans are outraged at the recent news that elderly abuse was taking place in Nightingale Nursing Home, rightfully so. Some are even calling for criminal prosecution of the abusers.

Abuse cases that involve physical violence or harm can be prosecuted under Singapore’s criminal laws. If the abusers were found to have struck the victim, they can be charged for voluntarily causing hurt, under section 321 of the Penal Code. In addition, in the case of the Nightingale abuse case, where an elderly woman was left in the nude on her bed, the responsible perpetrators may even be found guilty of insulting the modesty of the victim. If you are the family of an abuse victim, and there are clear signs of physical injury, make a police report immediately. You might also consider videotaping the abuse, if possible, to gather evidence.

In addition, the abused victim and her family may also be able to commence civil proceedings against the nursing home, as well as the abusers, to pursue monetary compensation. The nursing home is in a stronger financial position to compensate the victim. A court may find such a nursing home to be negligent in their duties and supervision of their staff members, resulting in such harm to the victim. It can also find that the nursing home is vicariously liable.

To prove negligence, several elements must be present. In a nursing home abuse case, it will probably be found that the nursing home owes the victim a duty of care to ensure her safety. In addition, the nursing home may have also breached this duty, by falling below the reasonable standards of careful and responsible supervision of their staff members.

Civil proceedings, if successful, can provide monetary compensation for the loss suffered by the victim. This can even include compensation for the mental suffering suffered by the victim.