Monday, 20 July 2015

Subsidies for aged care: Agency for Integrated Care replies

We thank Ms Ho Whei Chern for her feedback ("Ageing in place: Too much red tape for family"; last Sunday).

The Seniors' Mobility and Enabling Fund (SMF) provides subsidies for mobility aids and devices. Singaporeans aged 60 and above with a household monthly income per person of $1,800 or below, and who require these devices, can qualify for the SMF.

If seniors have a valid Community Health Assist Scheme card, no further means testing is needed for SMF.

We agree with Ms Ho that access to the SMF should be client-centred and hassle-free for families. For SMF subsidies for a commode, which Ms Ho had inquired about, the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) had suggested arranging for a therapist to visit her grandmother-in-law to assess her care needs and recommend an appropriate device.

Ms Ho shared that she had already purchased a commode and did not pursue the matter further. Such assessments would have been at no cost to seniors who require SMF devices.

For added convenience, there are currently more than 80 access points islandwide for people to apply for the SMF, including day and senior care centres, and public and community hospitals. If a senior is receiving care at any of these places, they would be able to assist the senior and families with the assessment and application.

Alternatively, AIC is able to arrange for its own therapist to visit the senior at home, and recommend the appropriate device. A special trip to the hospital for an assessment is, hence, not necessary. The SMF also subsidises consumables, such as adult diapers, which Ms Ho had also inquired about. Very frail seniors who need and are receiving Ministry of Health-subsidised home healthcare services can apply for the SMF to further defray the cost of care.

We have since contacted Ms Ho to better address her concerns and explain our SMF application process further. We will continue to review and improve our processes.

The public can call the Singapore Silver Line on 1800-650-6060 or visit our AICare Links for more information on the SMF and assistance for aged care.

To find an AICare Link near you, please visit

Andy Seet
Corporate and Marketing Communications
Agency for Integrated Care
ST Forum, 19 Jul 2015

Ageing in place: Too much red tape for family

My 106-year-old grandmother-in-law has been bedridden for more than five years. She has no major ailment other than just being old.

My mother-in-law and her two sisters, all in their 70s, have been caring for the centenarian on their own. They believe their mother is their responsibility and they try their best to manage every day.

Recently, I called the Agency for Integrated Care to find out more about the Seniors Mobility Fund, as my grandmother-in-law needed a new commode.

The cost of living has gone up and the family needs all the help it can get.

I was told that to get any form of subsidy, my mother-in-law would have to get my grandmother-in-law into the queue of an already overloaded healthcare system.

First, they would have to gather an assortment of documents to satisfy the means testing criteria. It did not matter that they already had the Community Health Assist Scheme card.

Then they would have to fork out money to hire a private ambulance to get my grandmother-in-law to and from a hospital to get her certified by a physiotherapist to confirm she truly requires a commode. That cost alone is more than the cost of the commode itself.

In addition, to get a subsidy for consumables such as adult diapers, the family would have to pay for the services of a homecare institution. The subsidy is through the institution. Again, the cost of the service is higher than the cost of the diapers.

We should strive to be like my mother-in-law and her sisters. They could have easily put their mother in a nursing home, enjoyed the subsidies and be done with it. But in return for choosing to care for their mother, in her own home without being a burden to anyone, they are cut off from any benefit.

"Ageing in place", "don't burden the system" are messages we see all the time. But from my family's experience, the processes on the ground seem to be herding the masses into the system.

Ho Whei Chern (Ms)
ST Forum, 12 Jul 2015

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