Forum: Time to ramp up homecare services for the elderly to age in place

I read with interest associate editor and senior columnist Chua Mui Hoong’s article, “Senior housing: Why not assisted living units in every HDB block?” (May 19).

As she pointed out, decoupling housing from “care and connectedness” enables us to reimagine a new paradigm in which seniors continue to live in their neighbourhood initially, cared for in their own homes with progressively more sophisticated care services, before moving into assisted living facilities specially established in their own HDB blocks so that critical social fabric and structures are preserved.

Ongoing research at the National University of Singapore’s Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health shows that Singaporeans do want to remain in familiar communities, but that seniors and their families face challenges with care services.

In the present circumstances, a range of community-based assisted living services and care options are available. However, the services are insufficient to meet the needs of our rapidly ageing population. For example, in 2021, there were 639,000 older adults. However, only 8,300 daycare places and 11,700 homecare places were available for seniors to age in place in the same year.

Ms Chua’s vision of “ageing in place” is compelling, but to realise its full potential, Singapore needs to accelerate both the access to and affordability of more comprehensive homecare services. 

Sheena Ramazanu

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