5 precautions S'pore nursing homes are taking to protect seniors against Covid-19

Earlier this month, MOH said all in-person visits to residential care homes will be suspended till Oct 11.
Earlier this month, MOH said all in-person visits to residential care homes will be suspended till Oct 11.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Nursing homes here have been stepping up precautions to safeguard senior residents even as Covid-19 cases continue to rise in the community.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) reported on Tuesday (Sept 28) that five more seniors aged between 69 and 79 died from Covid-19 complications, and more senior centres reported new cases in the past week.

On Tuesday, MOH reported a total of 11 Covid-19 cases at Man Fatt Lam Elderly Joy Daycare Centre, while Windsor Convalescent Home and Woodlands Care Home reported 39 and 24 total cases respectively.

Earlier this month, MOH said all in-person visits to residential care homes will be suspended till Oct 11 as an additional measure to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in these places.

As at Sept 24, 80 per cent of residents in nursing homes have received both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine while 90 per cent have received one dose.

Here are the current precautions in place at nursing homes:

1. Testing stepped up for staff and residents

Nursing homes have upped the frequency of Covid-19 testing for their staff from once every two weeks, to twice a week.

Nursing homes have also begun testing all residents from Monday (Sept 27) as an additional safeguard. The Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) said that frequent testing will enable any infection to be detected earlier and managed.

2. Premises divided into separate zones

To limit the spread and impact of Covid-19 within nursing homes in the event of a positive case, the homes have divided their premises into distinct zones. Residents and staff are assigned to a zone they must stay within, with no intermingling across zones.

3. Residents with Covid-19 taken to hospital and community treatment facilities

As nursing home residents are older and more vulnerable to serious complications from Covid-19, those who test positive are mostly taken to hospitals for treatment and close monitoring.

AIC said suitable Covid-19 nursing home residents - those who are stable or have mild symptoms - may be admitted to MOH's community treatment facilities, which provide more comprehensive medical coverage than nursing homes.

4. Response team set up to ring-fence Covid-19 cases

In the event a nursing home has Covid-19 cases, an incident response team comprising the nursing home and public health, hospital and laboratory representatives will be set up to detect, ring-fence and care for infected residents.

AIC and MOH will assist nursing homes where staff have been quarantined with manpower support so that their services are not disrupted.

5. Vaccination drives and booster shots

Vaccinations are carried out at nursing homes either by their in-house nursing teams or by mobile vaccination teams. Nursing homes work closely with their medical teams to assess if residents are eligible to be vaccinated.