SINGAPORE - The Health Ministry is ramping up the number of nursing home beds at a faster rate, and aims to have about 17,150 beds by 2020, up from its previous target of 15,600.
It may consider directly operating three to four nursing homes, to "catalyse the development of innovations in eldercare services," said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Thursday.
"Our intention is not to become a major player in the market," he added, noting that the ministry intends to directly operate only about 1,000 beds by 2020, or six per cent of total capacity then.
He was speaking at the official opening of a new tower block at Society for the Aged Sick, and outlined his plans to expand the nursing home sector.
To nurture the growth of bigger players, his ministry will also be calling for tenders, in which more than one nursing home will be awarded to an operator in a single tender exercise. These nursing homes will largely be within the same geographical region so that operators can better manage resources across the homes. The first of these Requests for Proposals will be launched next month, and is open to voluntary welfare organisations and private operators.
Suitable land sites will also be released for the private sector to develop into nursing homes. These sites will be tendered out to operators that may like to own and operate their own nursing homes to cater to specific market segments, he added.
The Ministry of Health had announced two years ago that 10 new nursing homes will be built by 2016, under the Build-Own-Lease model in which the ministry bears the cost of building the facilities but tenders out the operating rights to service providers to keep costs low for patients.
Between 2017 and 2020, another nine nursing homes providing 2,000 more beds will be built under this model, said Mr Gan on Thursday.