Govt working closely with nursing homes to improve care for seniors

Nursing home operators here are passionate about caring for our seniors ("Nursing homes have made efforts to raise standards" by the Sree Narayana Mission (Singapore) and other homes; Oct 13, and "Evaluate future need for dorm-style nursing homes" by the Lien Foundation; last Wednesday).

The Ministry of Health (MOH) and Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) thank them for working tirelessly with us to improve the physical and psycho-social care for seniors.

Quality nursing home care is multi-dimensional, and infrastructure provision is only one aspect.

In the past few years, the MOH and AIC have worked to enhance care staff salaries and training, raise care standards, as well as improve the living environment within nursing homes. The MOH has and will continue to try out new nursing home designs that can be more home-like, including smaller four-bedded rooms, and common living and dining spaces.

We have also injected some single rooms in government-built nursing homes for residents who need to be isolated or require some quiet time.

From our calculations, development costs could almost double, and operating costs will also increase significantly if nursing homes are constructed with only single and double-bedded rooms. This is primarily due to the need for additional space and manpower, both of which are scarce in Singapore.

More land may also be needed to build additional nursing homes.

If we convert all nursing homes to be single or double-bedded rooms, the escalation in cost will ultimately be borne by patients and their families, as well as taxpayers.

Nursing homes have also pointed out that not everyone prefers single rooms.

We welcome the Lien Foundation's clarification that, given the space and cost constraints, it had never been its view that Singapore should build only single rooms, but to allow more choice and diversity in our nursing homes.

The MOH will continue to provide a mix of options to meet the diverse needs of our seniors.

Our surveys consistently show that seniors prefer to age in place, in the familiar surroundings of their own homes. The recent survey by the Lien Foundation and NTUC Income confirmed this as well.

The MOH will continue to enhance our suite of home and community-based care services to better support what seniors want.

Lim Bee Khim (Ms)

Director

Corporate Communications

Ministry of Health

Andy Seet

Director

Corporate and Marketing Communications

Agency for Integrated Care

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2016, with the headline 'Govt working closely with nursing homes to improve care for seniors'. Print Edition | Subscribe