Plug gap in eldercare with assisted living facilities

By 2030, one in four Singaporeans will be aged 65 or older. However, are we sufficiently prepared for this demographic challenge (Multi-agency team to review eldercare; Nov 4)?

While the Government has increased capacity for nursing homes and restructured our hospitals to provide better community care, more can be done to improve the quality of care and to assist our elderly to age in place.

A gap in eldercare is the availability of assisted living facilities.

Currently, the Government subsidises the use of untrained domestic helpers to assist with the needs of the elderly.

However, this is far from ideal, as the needs of the elderly may not be adequately managed by domestic helpers.

Could the authorities explore more efficient methods of eldercare, namely through assisted living facilities?

In such facilities, a small care team could be based at the void deck of a housing block, providing caregiving services where needed.

A similar scheme is currently available in some estates to senior citizens who live in rental flats and do not have family members to care for them. Such facilities should be made available to elderly residents in all public housing estates.

The elderly folk who need such help could pay a fee for these services.

In this way, assisted living can be a cheaper and better option, compared with moving the elderly folk to nursing homes or having a domestic helper live with them.

Such an approach continues to emphasise the independence, autonomy and strengths of our elderly, rather than a deficit-based, medicalised approach to the challenges they face.

Our Pioneer Generation deserves better.

John Lim Le Sheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 27, 2017, with the headline 'Plug gap in eldercare with assisted living facilities'. Print Edition | Subscribe