Friday 23 August 2013

Help for the elderly fresh out of hospital

Carers visit their homes for up to 24 hours a day under scheme
By Poon Chian Hui, The Straits Times, 22 Aug 2013

TRAINED carers are to be stationed at elderly patients' homes for up to 24 hours a day under a new hospital scheme.

The aim is to provide temporary help for those who have been discharged but have nobody available to look after them.

Carers will help them move around the house, shower and feed themselves and take any medicine promptly.

The service is designed to give families a couple of weeks of breathing space while they arrange for longer-term care for their loved ones.

It will be officially launched next month by Changi General Hospital. Chief operating officer Peter Tay said: "Older folk always want to go home.

"But sometimes, caregiver arrangements, like hiring a maid, cannot be done by the time they are discharged."

Madam Chia Choo Tey, 77, found herself in this situation last month after she took a tumble and ended up in hospital.

With her children working full time, it was a struggle to find someone to take care of her once she returned home.

Her eldest son, Mr William Lim, scrambled to hire a maid, but the process can take months.

"In the meantime, we had nobody," recalled the 60-year-old tour guide. "There was the risk that my mother, living alone, would fall again."

Mr Tay said the hospital has received "overwhelming" response since it started piloting the programme five months ago.

Carers are stationed at patients' homes for 12 hours a day for two weeks. If the family needs round-the-clock help, they can use the service 24 hours a day for a week.

About 80 patients have so far been helped by the service, provided in partnership with voluntary welfare organisation Thye Hua Kwan Moral Charities. Most patients are women aged over 70.

After the official launch, the scheme, which is open to everyone, will have 15 carers who are expected to help about 400 patients a year. It will also be started at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, staffed by another 10 caregivers. Fees will range from $180 for Class C patients to $900 for those in Class A and B1.

To be eligible for the scheme, patients need to be fit enough to go home but require help with daily tasks while they wait for a maid to arrive or an available nursing home place.

Some discharged patients need round-the-clock care because they are bedridden, said Mr Satyaprakash Tiwari, divisional director (elderly and disability) at Thye Hua Kwan Moral Charities.

Weakened by illness, they require help with daily tasks such as showering. Others are unsteady on their feet after suffering a fall. Like Madam Chia, they need assistance to move around, including going to the toilet.

Her son, Mr Lim, told The Straits Times: "It would be good to extend it for up to six months.

"What if some patients need more time to recover fully?"


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