Singapore should offer first-world care for the elderly: Philip Yap

Prof Yap urges people to think about elderly care facilities.
Prof Yap urges people to think about elderly care facilities.

When he wrote a commentary published in The Straits Times called "Would you want to grow old in today's nursing homes?", Associate Professor Philip Yap wanted to start a conversation among Singaporeans.

"I wanted this article to get Singaporeans to say what kind of place they wanted to grow old in," said the senior consultant in the department of geriatric medicine at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH). "What do they want for themselves?"

Prof Yap was inspired to write the piece in response to news that plans had been put on hold for Jade Circle - a pioneering model of care for dementia patients that proposes to house them in single or twin rooms instead of the usual six- to eight-bed dormitories.

The Ministry of Health told the group developing the Jade Circle home last month that it could not provide subsidies to residents staying in such rooms.

Prof Yap said: "The Jade Circle issue highlighted the issue of whether different kinds of care settings would benefit people with dementia.

"Is it just a luxury, or is it really a medical case for them to be housed in a certain care setting?"

Responses he has received so far are unanimous in calling for better nursing homes here. "We are a developed, first-world country," he added. "We should be first-world in our care of the elderly."

Tan Weizhen

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 24, 2016, with the headline 'He calls for first-world care for the elderly'. Print Edition | Subscribe