We agree with Mr Ronnie Lim Ah Bee that we can consider converting vacated schools into nursing home facilities to meet the growing needs of our ageing population. ("Convert empty schools into nursing homes"; Nov 27)
The Ministry of Health (MOH) has increased its nursing home beds from 9,400 in 2011 to the current 12,000, and is on track to reach 17,000 nursing home beds by 2020.
One of our strategies is indeed to make use of vacated school buildings. For example, we retrofitted a vacated primary school in Yishun into a nursing home. The facility was tendered out and is currently operated by All Saints Home.
As part of the larger community, the home engages volunteers, including students as well as active seniors and residents from surrounding residences, to spend time there. These activities bring much joy to the nursing home residents. The home also provides day-care services and serves as a place to host active ageing programmes for seniors living in the vicinity. One example is Share-A-Pot, a programme that helps to build good nutrition, exercise and social bonding among seniors in the community.
Another example is Pearl's Hill Care Home, which was a primary school and student hostel previously. The retrofitted nursing home has enabled us to bring day-care and home care services to the ageing community in the area.
We will continue to tap vacated schools in expanding our capacity, in addition to purpose-built nursing homes in greenfield sites.
Even while we make nursing home care more accessible for our seniors, our priority remains to build up a good ecosystem of home and community care to support our seniors to age in place at home and in the community close to their loved ones.
We are working on parallel efforts to expand and enhance our home and community care services to achieve this.
Lim Bee Khim (Ms)
Ministry of Health