Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Rising demand for senior care centres

At least 22 new senior care centres are expected to open by 2016, according to the Agency for Integrated Care.
By Amanda Lee, TODAY, 7 Oct 2014

One of the effects of Singapore’s ageing population has manifested itself more clearly in recent years, with rising demand for eldercare services prodding big operators in the sector to add more centres while they prepare to open even more in the next few years.

In total, at least 22 new senior care centres are expected by 2016, said the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC), which added that there has been an increase in the number of referrals to centre-based services.

Last year, the AIC facilitated 11,200 such referrals for clients, about a 30 per cent jump from 2012.

“The increase of referrals is an indication of the rising demand for centre-based care services from the public, and the AIC is working closely with service providers to meet the demand,” said its spokesperson.

The AIC added that it expects at least 30 senior care centres – including the existing eight – to offer more than 3,000 places by 2020. This includes the 10 to 15 the PAP Community Foundation plans to set up islandwide over the next five years. Senior care centres are one-stop facilities integrating day care, community rehabilitation and nursing or dementia care.

“Having various services under one roof makes it more convenient for seniors and caregivers as they no longer need to travel to different places for different care services. The AIC is working closely with these centres on their development and operations,” the spokesperson added.


Operators contacted said they started expanding to cater to the rising demand for eldercare services about five years ago.

St Luke’s ElderCare and St Luke’s Hospital chief operating officer Kenny Tan said the number of day care centres it runs has doubled from six to 12 in the past five years. “We will look into ways that will enable us to reach out to even more elderly in the community, by way of expansion, upgrading and training,” said Dr Tan.

ECON Healthcare Group, which has four senior activity centres, expects to have another eight such centres ready by next year, said its executive director Ong Hui Ming. “We also hope to expand our home care and home rehabilitation services,” she added.

NTUC Health, a cooperative under the labour movement and which operates 10 Silver Circle centres providing eldercare services such as daycare and homecare, as well as runs senior activity centres, said it is prepared to invest in another five nursing homes in the next three to five years.


A report released by the National Population and Talent Division last month showed those aged 65 and above formed 12.4 per cent of the citizen population in June, up from 11.7 per cent a year earlier. The number of elderly citizens is also projected to triple to 900,000 by 2030.

Members of Parliament (MPs) whose constituencies comprise a rising number of the elderly also told TODAY they have seen increasing demand for eldercare services in recent years.

One of them, Jurong GRC MP Halimah Yacob, who is also Speaker of Parliament, said: “This is because of our ageing population and the request is for places in the senior care centres and nursing homes.”

Ang Mo Kio MP Yeo Guat Kwang said his constituency does not have respite care services and is working with the AIC on this. Respite care services are the provision of short-term accommodation to those needing care, so the caregiver gets temporary relief.

He said the centre could be open early next year and that they are looking to see if it can be located at a void deck or co-located with the new community centre at Hougang Avenue 9, which will be ready in the third quarter of next year.

“For those family members who are caregivers, they can take their spouse or family member (to the centre) during the weekend or once a month and at least let them be entitled to a day off,” said Mr Yeo.

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