Saturday, September 29, 2012

More eldercare facilities to be built over 5 years

SINGAPORE: The government will spend more than S$500 million over the next five years to build more eldercare facilities to support the needs of an increasing ageing population.

Sites to build 10 nursing homes, 21 Senior Care Centres (SCCs), and 45 Senior Activity Centres (SACs) by 2016 were revealed on Friday in a joint release by the Health Ministry and the Ministry for Community Development, Youth and Sports.

The Health Ministry said it's important to plan ahead for aged care facilities to serve every neighbourhood, in the same way that childcare, community centres and other amenities to support the population's needs.

Mr Tan Tau Tin takes five minutes to walk from his home to visit his mother at the Man Fut Tong Nursing Home in Woodlands.

The close proximity allows him to visit his mother daily and he said having a nursing home is very important to elderly residents like himself who needs it.

Like Mr Tan, more Singaporeans will also benefit from having more eldercare facilities in their neighbourhood.

Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong said: "Our goal is to eventually make every neighbourhood a senior friendly neighbourhood, by having aged care facilities that can provide accessible care to seniors living all over the island. Many of these seniors are our pioneers, our parents and our grandparents. We too will age. So this investment in aged care facilities is for Singapore and for our future."

A population trend report showed that the proportion of elderly aged 65 years and over was generally higher among Singapore residents staying in older estates.

And so the new nursing homes will be in areas such as Yishun, Jurong West, Geylang, Hougang and Queenstown which will also have senior activity and senior care centres.

The 10 nursing homes will add an estimated 3,300 beds to Singapore's existing nursing home capacity of 9,000.

The government hopes that by locating the nursing homes within the community, it would make it more convenient for families to visit seniors in these nursing homes. It will also help to better complement the range of healthcare services within the community such as hospitals, clinics and day rehabilitation centres.

Mr Gan said: "We do understand that residents have some concerns and some of the concerns once we explain to them, they would accept it. We re-designed some of our original concept so as to cater to their needs and strike a balance between the interests of residents as well as interest of the seniors."

Mr Gan added that the Health Ministry will work closely with the MPs and grassroots leaders to engage residents on how the facilities can be designed to serve the community in the coming months.

He said: "We hope that residents who are living near these facilities will understand the need for these facilities to be built and will support our efforts and plans.

"And we will engage them, share with them the need for these facilities. We'll also be very happy to get input from them how we can design facilities better so we can serve the community in more ways than one.

The new Senior Care Centres will be located in Bedok, Bukit Batok, Bukit Merah, Geylang, Hougang, Jurong West, Kallang, Pasir Ris, Punggol, Queenstown, Sengkang, Serangoon, Tampines, Toa Payoh, Woodlands, Yishun.

Senior Care Centres will provide day care, dementia day care, day rehabilitation services and basic nursing services.

Forty-five Senior Activity Centres will be set up in Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Bukit Batok, Bukit Merah, Bukit Panjang, Bukit Timah, Choa Chu Kang, Geylang, Hougang, Jurong West, Kallang, Pasir Ris, Punggol, Queenstown, Sengkang, Novena, Tampines, Toa Payoh, Woodlands and Yishun.

Seniors can visit these centres to engage in regular social activities.

SACs will largely be sited at rental blocks or studio apartments and will be operated by Voluntary Welfare Organisations or commercial operators.

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