SINGAPORE: An enhanced set of nursing home licensing standards will be introduced by 2015.
Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, Minister of State for Health Dr Amy Khor said an industry—led committee will be reviewing standards and identifying areas that can be enhanced.
There will be more specific standards set in various aspects of clinical care —— such as oral hygiene, continence management and falls prevention. The social aspects of nursing home care will also be looked into. These include respecting residents’ dignity and caring for their emotional well—being.
The committee will also add new standards on organisational excellence, covering areas of human resource and financial management.
The Health Ministry is also engaging Singaporeans to remake nursing homes. The ministry is tapping on architects’ creativity to build nursing homes that are not just clinical care facilities, but modern homes for seniors to recuperate.
For new nursing homes, the government is planning to design them to be aesthetically pleasing, yet functional.
Dr Khor said: "An example is the future nursing home in Jurong East. Instead of a squarish residential block, the architect ’breaks up’ the mass to create a more interesting form.
"Green balconies are injected in between the towers, making the whole development more visually pleasing to the surrounding community. This will not look out of place within a residential area."
"Beyond the hardware, we are evolving our nursing homes to be eldercare hubs that can benefit a wider community of seniors and their caregivers. Where space allows, we will expand their suite of services beyond nursing home care to include day care and other services for caregivers."
However, Dr Khor acknowledged that some seniors prefer to be cared for outside of the nursing home. Thus, the Health Ministry will step up its efforts to develop home—care services to support caregivers.
It will be convening an industry—led committee to review and chart new standards and strategies for home care development.
The committee will recommend a common system to assess the care needs of home care patients, set common standards for home care and identify new home care services that can be developed.
The government also recognises that looking after a family member can be stressful and tiring. Thus, the Health Ministry is working to make respite services more accessible and affordable, said Dr Khor.
The ministry is starting a pilot project, by working with a few nursing homes to set aside some beds for caregivers who need temporary reprieve.
Dr Khor also revealed that the Senior’s Mobility and Enabling Fund, which was announced in Budget 2013, supports seniors who want to live independently in the community.
The application process for subsidies under the fund will be simplified. Any senior living in a three—room flat or smaller will automatically qualify for a 90 per cent subsidy for devices that cost less than S$350.
Dr Khor said: "We will expand subsidies beyond mobility devices to cover other assistive devices. Seniors can receive subsidies for more items such as motorised wheelchairs, commodes, geriatric chairs and pressure—relief mattresses. The fund will also cover spectacles and hearing aids."
The enhanced fund can also be used to subsidise transport costs for more seniors who are community—ambulant.
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