- POSTED: 09 Jan 2014 22:59
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The Ministry of Health has finalised a set of enhanced nursing homes standards aimed at providing better care for seniors, which will take effect next year.
SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Health has finalised a set of enhanced nursing homes standards aimed at providing better care for seniors, which will take effect next year.
A one-year grace period will be given to providers before the enforcement of the standards kick in by 2016.
St Theresa's Home, a voluntary welfare nursing home, constantly upgrades its service levels to provide better care for its patients.
But with the new set of enhanced standards, some of its processes will be refined even further.
"One of the crucial parts about this enhanced scheme is that there will be more personalised services on a case-to-case basis. This is something we've got to work on,” said Thomas Tan, chairman of Catholic Welfare Services.
“Sometimes people have to go to hospital. So we hope to be able to help solve the hospital and bed crunch problem by getting (patients treated) in-house rather than be sent to the hospital for every issue."
In the meantime, the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) will be introducing a suite of programmes to prepare nursing homes for the enhanced standards.
For one, nursing homes seeking to identify areas for improvement and develop customised improvement strategies to meet the enhanced standards can participate in voluntary baseline assessments that the AIC will be conducting this year.
Based on the results of these assessments, AIC will develop targeted programmes to help nursing homes close the gaps in the areas where the sector is weaker at.
The AIC will have a checklist of 28 criteria that nursing homes should meet, which would help nursing homes know where they stand and give them time to make improvements before enforcement kicks in.
So far, some 23 nursing homes have already signed for these voluntary baseline assessments.
AIC has also developed new courses for nursing care staff and supervisors in the areas of falls prevention, mental health, psycho-social support, and end-of-life care.
One new area of focus is falls prevention.
"We will go and look at the facilities to see if (they're) conducive for the elderly," said Lynda Soong, chief of Community Care Development Division at AIC.
"We'll look at whether the staff are trained, whether there are processes in place to prevent falls and if there aren't, then we will work with the homes to bring in the experts to teach the staff about falls prevention and to put processes in place and documentation."
Based on consultation sessions with nursing home providers, members of the public and caregivers of seniors held from April to August last year, an area that needs to be further strengthened is psycho-social care.
"It's important to ensure that the dignities of residents are preserved even as they are provided nursing care. And of course psycho-social well-being, mental well-being are very important,” said Senior Minister of State for Health Dr Amy Khor.
“If they need counselling, outreach (and) family intervention, the nursing homes are to provide social support services in these areas if the need arises."
Participants in these courses may receive up to 80 per cent subsidy on their course fees.
AIC will also be launching a guide in the second quarter of this year to help nursing homes better understand how the enhanced standards can be implemented.
For example, the guide will include examples of activities that nursing homes can take to achieve the outcomes specified in the enhanced standards.