Demand for home-care services on the rise

More people are opting to be cared for at home and service providers are stepping up to meet the demand. -- PHOTO: NTUC ELDERCARE VIA FACEBOOK
More people are opting to be cared for at home and service providers are stepping up to meet the demand. -- PHOTO: NTUC ELDERCARE VIA FACEBOOK

Transitional care services to ease patients back home also catching on

More people are opting to be cared for at home and service providers are stepping up to meet the demand.

Two voluntary welfare organisations that are major providers of home-care services, for instance, have become busier.

NTUC Eldercare has seen client numbers for its home-care services more than triple from 80 in 2012 to 250 last year; Touch Home Care reported a 20 per cent increase in the number of patients from 2012 to last year.

Under such services, trained staff go to the patient's home and provide non-medical services such as washing or housekeeping. They also engage patients in conversation or games.

Many people opt for home-based care because they would rather be looked after in a familiar environment than a hospital or a nursing home.

Take Madam Sa'odah Ahmad, 58, who was left partially paralysed after a stroke in October.

"She prefers it at home and I also want my mum to be at home," said her daughter Lizawati Zakariah, 24, who quit her job as a spa receptionist to look after her mother. "In the hospital, you don't always know what's happening. At home, she is comfortable."

While Ms Lizawati is the main caregiver for her mother, she is helped by a nurse from the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH)'s transitional care scheme.

The nurse goes to their home three to four times a week to help Ms Lizawati feed her mother, change her diapers and carry her to her wheelchair.

Besides home care, transitional care services like that provided by KPTH, are also becoming more popular. Such services help ease patients back into their homes after discharge.

KTPH, for instance, has seen average patient numbers go up from 30 a month in April 2012 to 40 in April last year.

The Singapore General Hospital is expecting demand for its transitional care programme to increase. It hopes to boost its capacity to serve 480 patients this year, and 1,000 patients a year by 2016.

It used to have only one doctor and one nurse on duty at any one time, but now has at least two doctors, two nurses, and a medical social worker on standby.

Service providers like NTUC Eldercare have also branched out to meet different aspects of demand.

While it started out providing basic services like helping clients with bathing, exercising, and meal preparation, it began offering home nursing, therapy, and medical care in June last year. It also hopes to recruit more local caregivers: "Locals would be ideal, because of the cultural and language connection with the elderly," said Ms Pang Sze Yunn, NTUC Eldercare's assistant general manager of home care services.

linettel@sph.com.sg

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