Forum: Dementia care services scaled up and range of options expanded

We thank Mr Tam Ah Hock and Dr Ng Lee Beng for their letters (Building dementia village: Focus on affordability, May 22, and Solutions needed to deal with ballooning dementia problem, May 26).

The Ministry of Health (MOH) recognises the growing need in Singapore for dementia care services. We have worked with providers to scale up existing services and expand the range of care options for persons with dementia.

Currently, services such as residential care, day care, home care and respite care cater to the varying needs and profiles of persons with dementia and their caregivers.

Our new purpose-built nursing homes and senior care centres are also designed to serve their needs.

In addition to services, we have also set up dementia-friendly communities, to increase awareness of dementia and create environments safe for persons with dementia to live in, such as the safe return go-to points and Dementia Friends mobile app.

To ensure affordability, the Government provides means-tested subsidies of up to 80 per cent, with more subsidies directed towards the lower-income.

Eligible seniors can also tap financial assistance schemes, such as the Seniors Mobility and Enabling Fund, Interim Disability Assistance Programme for the Elderly and Home Caregiving Grant.

When implemented, CareShield Life and allowing MediSave withdrawals in cash will also support long-term care expenses.

Singaporeans who are unable to pay for their care after government subsidies and other means of support can apply for ElderFund, MediFund or ComCare assistance.

The concept of the dementia care village at Gibraltar Crescent aimed to trial yet another model of care for persons with dementia.

To allow more seniors to access the new care model regardless of income, we mandated that the winning bidder set aside at least 25 per cent of total residential capacity for subsidised clients.

Through the tender, we hoped to leverage ideas from the private sector and assess the demand for such facilities and its financial viability.

It is important that the bid meets a reasonable price so that the model is appropriately charged and is sustainable.

We will continue to explore other sites and models for dementia care.

Enhancing care for seniors is an ongoing effort involving all in the community. MOH will continue to work with stakeholders to better support our seniors.

Charlene Chang

Group Director, Ageing Planning Office,

Ministry of Health