Singapore Budget 2018: Senior care services to come under Health Ministry

The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) will hand over senior-related social support services to the Ministry of Health (MOH) from April in a move to streamline care for the elderly.

These services include managing senior activity centres, befriending and counselling assistance, and a seniors' helpline.

"Social and healthcare needs are closely inter-related and both have an impact on the well-being of our seniors," said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat yesterday. Having senior care services come under the roof of a single ministry will "enable these services to be planned and delivered holistically".

The MSF will continue to manage senior group homes and sheltered homes for the elderly who lack family support and need permanent accommodation.

The changes will take place on April 1, with the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) coordinating all such services.

The Pioneer Generation Office - set up in 2014 to educate seniors on the Pioneer Generation Package - will be merged with this agency and renamed the Silver Generation Office.

Over the next five years, the Government will improve the delivery of social services to other groups in society. This includes working on better coordination between the various organisations, optimising the use of community resources and seeing how volunteers can play a part.

 
 
 

"These efforts will bring quicker and more effective assistance to our citizens, to help them get back on their feet," Mr Heng said, adding that more information will be outlined during the Budget debate.

The MSF, MOH and the Finance Ministry said in a joint statement that there will be no disruptions on the ground when senior support services change hands. "Seniors under the care or services provided by affected organisations will continue to be served," they said.

"Aged-care providers can now work with MOH's AIC as the single agency to coordinate the delivery of aged care services, and to enhance service development and capability-building across both the health and social domains."

These changes will make for more efficient policy planning and execution, said Ms Janice Chia, founder of social enterprise and consultancy Ageing Asia. "For seniors and caregivers, it's really about how they can access information, advice and assistance from one central point of contact as quickly as possible when the situation arises."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2018, with the headline 'Senior care services to come under Health Ministry'. Print Edition | Subscribe