SINGAPORE - Eight new nursing homes were set up between 2016 and 2020, bringing the total in Singapore to 77 last year. In that time, the number of nursing home beds went up from 13,000 to 16,300, said Senior Minister of State for Health Koh Poh Koon on Tuesday (Aug 3).
He added that the overall bed occupancy rate has generally remained stable over the past five years, at around 90 per cent.
"But what we want to do is make sure that we don't entrench our elderly in institutions as they age," Dr Koh said, stressing the importance of caring for seniors in the community as far as possible. This includes making sure they have an active social support network that promotes emotional and physical well-being.
"It's more important to make sure that they age in place, and also have good health in order to carry on a meaningful life in their golden years."
Dr Koh was responding to Workers' Party MP Louis Chua (Sengkang GRC), who had asked for key numbers on Singapore's nursing homes after a resident told him she had been instructed to wait up to three years for a space.
Mr Chua also asked what plans the Health Ministry had for building up the number of beds available, given Singapore's ageing population.
Mr Koh responded that the resident's situation is not the norm and asked Mr Chua to contact him if there were special circumstances surrounding the case.
On the broader topic of building up the number of nursing home beds, he added: "It's important to make sure that the intervention is about keeping them healthy; if they do have care needs, try and localise them within the community... rather than thinking about institutionalising them in nursing homes. That, in my mind, as a doctor, should be the very last resort for our elderly."