New models of care for seniors need to be sustainable: Lam Pin Min

A woman pushing an elderly person on a wheelchair across the road.
A woman pushing an elderly person on a wheelchair across the road.ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

SINGAPORE - A balance has to be struck between innovation and sustainability when it comes to developing new models of care for seniors, said Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min in a Facebook post on Wednesday night.

He was referring to the shelving of plans for a proposed new building next to Salvation Army's Peacehaven nursing home, which planned to create a home-like environment with residents staying in single or twin rooms.

Jade Circle - developed jointly by Peacehaven, the Lien Foundation and Khoo Chwee Neo Foundation - was supposed to provide residents with more privacy, autonomy and well-being.

Eight-bed rooms are the norm here. Single rooms are usually used for interim infection-control purposes.

Last month, the Ministry of Health (MOH) told Peacehaven that it could not provide subsidies to residents staying in the proposed single or twin rooms.

"MOH has always been supportive of innovation on new models of care that can enhance care outcomes for patients," said Dr Lam.

"However, MOH needs to balance the innovation of new models of care with sustainability over the longer term."

He added that the ministry has to be cautious about subsidising developments that are purpose-built to comprise of only single or double-bedded rooms.

"Such parameters may be hard to scale or to be financially sustainable, if applied to the rest of the aged care sector."

The Health Ministry has offered to extend financial support to the project if some rooms are converted into four-bedded wards.

Alternatively, wrote Dr Lam, the ministry is prepared to bring the Peacehaven home under the portable subsidy scheme for private nursing homes. Under this scheme, private homes set aside a certain proportion of their beds for patients who meet the means test criteria for subsidies, and have been referred by the Agency for Integrated Care.

Dr Lam also said that the ministry has offered to fund a daycare facility in the new extension.

"We appreciate the passion and initiative of Peacehaven and its funders to pioneer new models of care for our seniors, and hope that they can also appreciate our considerations on sustainability at the national level, beyond this pilot," Dr Lam said.

"We are in touch with Peacehaven and its funders to discuss how we can work together to support the project and enable it to proceed."

Peacehaven and its funders have said that they will be aborting the project as converting more than half of the 60-bed facility to four-bed wards would add just four more beds, and such reconfiguration of the rooms would be going against the concept of the new building.