SINGAPORE: Consumables such as catheters, wound dressings and diapers needed by patients on home palliative care will soon be subsidised under the Seniors' Mobility and Enabling Fund (SMF), said Dr Amy Khor in Parliament on Wednesday (Mar 7).
Making the announcement during her ministry's Committee of Supply debate, Dr Khor said the enhancement will be made in the coming months.
To date, more than 49,000 beneficiaries have benefited from the Fund since it was launched in 2011. Currently, home-care clients can tap on the scheme for subsidies for assistive devices, transport and home healthcare items.
Announced earlier in the Budget statement, the SMF will receive another S$100 million top-up over the next five years. Another S$150 million will be spent on transport to subsidised eldercare and dialysis centres.
ASSISTED LIVING IN THE WORKS
To better support seniors to age in place, Dr Khor announced that her ministry is working with the Ministry of National Development, Housing and Development Board and Urban Redevelopment Authority to pilot new forms of housing that are twinned with care services.
Both ministries are already studying potential sites within public housing and the private residential market.
In such housing developments, Dr Khor said that basic domestic services such as housekeeping and laundry as well as 24-hour monitoring and response will be offered to support seniors who want to live independently.
She also gave an update to the Care Close to Home (C2H) programme which supports seniors who live alone or have low or no caregiving support. To date,more than 2,500 seniors have benefitted from the C2H programme.
The programme will be extended from the current 11 to four more sites in Beach Road, Chai Chee, Chin Swee and Lengkok Bahru.
COMMUNITY-BASED PHARMACEUTICAL CARE PILOT
To save seniors multiple trips to the doctors, pharmacists from community retail pharmacies and polyclinics will visit seniors to advise them on their medications, Dr Khor said.
In the pilot programme that will be launched in the second quarter of this year, these pharmacists will visit seniors living in homes and care centres.
MOH is also ramping up community nursing by increasing geographically-based community nurses from the existing 130 to 200 by the end of next year.
“In the area of preventive health, for instance, community nurses can reach out to residents in the community and coach them to manage their health better. For residents who have been discharged from hospital, and may have complex medical issues, the community nurse can provide direct care in their homes,” Dr Khor said.
PHARMACISTS SAY MOVE HAS BENEFITS AND CHALLENGES
Ms Reshma Lhode, 38, a senior clinical pharmacist working with Guardian Health & Beauty said that this service will benefit the patients at the centres.
"They are usually the elderly who live in the centres' vicinity, who have several chronic diseases and take more than five medications a day," said Ms Reshma, who has 15 years of experience as a pharmacist.
One benefit of the service, she said, is to help patients identify the challenges they face in taking medication.
"They may not know their medication dosage. We will help provide advice to ensure compliance on their medication dosage," she said.
Ms Lim Zhiying, 35, a senior pharmacist at Unity Pharmacy by FairPrice, said that one challenge for community-based pharmacists lies in the difficulty in getting the full medication background of the client as some of them visit multiple doctors.
"We have also seen clients who combine Western and complementary medications," she added.
Nevertheless, Ms Lim welcomed the move. "This widens our scope of work beyond dispensing medication and contributes towards elevating the healthcare industry in Singapore," she said.