The labour movement is stepping on the gas to make inroads into the eldercare market as the population ages.
Yesterday, NTUC Health launched its first nursing home in Jurong West. The nine-storey home offers nursing care to about 200 seniors who use wheelchairs or have dementia. It also houses a care centre for more mobile old folk.
At the launch, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) also revealed plans for more elder-friendly supermarkets and highlighted a new insurance policy that covers seniors for cancer.
These moves are part of its push to offer affordable services for working people, said its secretary-general Chan Chun Sing, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office.
"It is a continuation of what NTUC wants to provide for our working people to ameliorate the cost pressures that they face in their daily living," he said. "In the past, it was NTUC FairPrice for groceries, then NTUC Income for basic insurance. So going forward, we know that in 10 to 15 years' time, the need will be in care services."
By 2030, he added, almost one in three in the population will need some form of eldercare services.
"For NTUC to provide those services in 15 years' time, we must get our feet wet. We must start to experiment, understand the business model and recruit the people necessary to make sure we have those options available for ourselves by the year 2030," he said.
NTUC announced its entry into the nursing-home sector in 2014 and said then that it was prepared to invest in another five homes in the next three to five years.
It will run two other homes in Geylang East and Chai Chee that will be ready by next year.
A social enterprise, NTUC Health wants to pioneer new concepts to be a catalyst for social change. The Jurong facility, for instance, is the first nursing home in Singapore that has an anti-gravity treadmill.
Based on space technology to simulate weightlessness while exercising, the treadmill enables the elderly to walk without experiencing too much impact on their joints and muscles.
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