Two independent panels of experts provide checks on the quality of care in welfare homes, including by carrying out unannounced monthly visits.
Members of the Review Committee and Board of Visitors are volunteers appointed by the Minister for Social and Family Development for a two-year term and may be reappointed. The committee has six members; the board has 11.
The members come from the private and public sectors. They include a social worker, healthcare professionals and a member of the Singapore Civil Defence Force.
The review panel meets once every two months, reviewing the progress of 200 to 300 residents each time, to assess if they are suitable to be discharged from the homes. A resident's case is reviewed at least once a year.
Members of the Board of Visitors also individually make monthly unannounced visits to the homes. These visits are done to ensure that the health, maintenance, recreation and management of residents are satisfactory. Residents can also raise concerns to board members.
After each visit, the board gives the home a report of its observations. It also meets representatives from all homes on a quarterly basis to share its findings, so they can learn.
National Library Board chief information officer Lee Kee Siang chairs the board, and has served on it for more than eight years in different roles.
He said some residents are "very forthcoming" in raising concerns. "They complain about issues such as not being served enough food. We record whatever they tell us, and we surface it for discussion with the homes," he added.
In such cases, the board has to exercise discretion as a doctor may think it is not suitable for the resident to have more food, he said. "Some of the homes are very innovative. Instead of giving double the original food portion, they split the original into two smaller portions, so psychologically, it helps."
He said of the board's role: "It's not about giving the destitute a first-class hotel stay, but about ensuring they have good living conditions."