Help small nursing homes provide cost-effective service

New licensing conditions on nursing homes have left smaller facilities struggling to meet the new - and more expensive - requirements ("Small nursing homes feel the squeeze as new rules kick in"; May 15).

These include fire safety system upgrades and hiring professionals for food safety checks.

With fewer beds to generate income within the same physical space, coupled with increasing operating costs from inflation and additional costs from upgrades, revenue will suffer.

Subsidies should be channelled to nursing homes requiring additional help in charging lower rates to residents, rather than providing capable parties additional capital.

These homes will, thus, have to increase their value through either raising prices or providing additional benefits to paying parties, such as further personalised care for the elderly.

With 72 nursing homes here, competition will be stiff.

Furthermore, big players, such as the National Trades Union Congress, are coming into the picture ("NTUC making more inroads into eldercare"; May 26).

Such players with more capital can choose to invest in land resources, eventually offering cheaper options than what smaller independent homes can offer.

The Ministry of Health was right in rejecting subsidies for the Jade Circle project, developed jointly by Peacehaven, the Lien Foundation and Khoo Chwee Neo Foundation ("Shelved: Plans for different model of nursing home"; Dec 21, 2015).

An additional $19 million a year in subsidies would have to be paid to offer single-bedded rooms for improved elderly care, which would be tantamount to subsidising A-class wards in hospitals ("'$8 more a day to stay in single-bed nursing home'"; July 29).

Such subsidies should be channelled to nursing homes requiring additional help in charging lower rates to residents, rather than providing capable parties additional capital.

By 2030, 900,000 people in Singapore will be aged 65 and above and would require assistance because of age.

It is better to allocate subsidies to where they are needed more, in this case, smaller nursing homes providing an important service but struggling to comply with government restrictions.

Christopher Aung Myo Htet

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2016, with the headline 'Help small nursing homes provide cost-effective service'. Print Edition | Subscribe