Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Govt looking at allowing Medisave for home care services

SINGAPORE : The government is looking at allowing the use Medisave for home care services and reviewing current subsidies to make home care options more affordable.

This was announced by Minister of State for Health, Dr Amy Khor, at the opening of the TOUCH Home Care Centre in Jurong on Wednesday.

78-year-old Sapri Amat suffers from hypertension and cataract, and some months ago, a gout attack left him almost bed-bound.

His wife Madam Piah has cancer.

Their only caregiver - son Mohamad Sapri - left his job about two years ago to care for his elderly parents.

The new TOUCH Home Care Centre in Jurong now provides transport for Madam Piah for her hospital appointment visits.

A nurse and therapist also visit Mr Sapri to monitor his condition and provide home-rehabilitation.

After subsidies, the family pays about S$60 a month for the services - 10 per cent of the total cost.

Madam Piah said: "I feel better. There are now people to look after me. If not, there is only me taking care of my husband, along with my son."

TOUCH Home Care is only the second voluntary welfare organisation (VWO) to provide home care services in the West, an area it said has been under-served, till now. But in just two months, its staff of 10 are now catering to the needs of 30 clients, a number it hopes to expand to some 300 within the next two years.

Besides VWOs providing these services, needy Singaporeans can soon also tap on Medifund for home care services. Some 1,000 Singaporeans are expected to benefit.

But the government acknowledges that cost is still a big factor, and it may also allow the use of Medisave for such services.

Dr Khor said: "Home care will play a substantive role in future as one of the care options for the elderly. The issue of accessibility and affordability of elder care services is critical and we need to address that, so we are looking at ways to grow the home care sector.

"Some of the areas we are looking at include reviewing our subsidies as well as the use of Medisave."

The government is also looking at leave options to alleviate the stress faced by caregivers.

The Agency for Integrated Care and the Centre for Enabled Living will provide TOUCH with a funding of S$700,000 over two years.

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