Some eldercare providers call for more efforts to increase manpower, create cohesive care network
This comes as the Government aims to support seniors to take care of their own health and stay active in the community, rather than in institutions.
SINGAPORE: Some eldercare providers are calling for more efforts to attract talent to the sector and to build a more cohesive care network.
This comes as the Government looks to improve support for seniors outside of healthcare institutions to help them age well in the community.
A big challenge is having enough staff to serve the elders, said Ms Jennifer Goh, assistant director of centre-based services at St Luke’s ElderCare.
This comes as the industry grapples with rising demand, and the nation’s plan to raise the number of active ageing centres to more than 200 in three years.
"As much as we like to digitalise and automate, nothing beats the human touch that staff can provide in the centre's work," she said.
She added that they connect with the seniors as they are compassionate and understanding.
"This is very important, and to have this dedicated workforce is also one area that we need to put in resources to train," she said.
In his budget speech on Tuesday (Feb 14), Finance Minister Lawrence Wong shared plans of the Government’s aim to support seniors to take care of their own health and stay active in the community, rather than in institutions.
It comes as the population rapidly ages, with one in four Singaporeans expected to age 65 and above by 2030, up from one in six today.
HELPING SENIORS AGE IN PLACE
Another challenge is reaching the seniors who need help, said centre manager at AWWA Dementia Day Care Teo Ying Ying.
“While services, facilities, programmes may be available to enable seniors to age in place, some seniors may not know where or how to utilise these services or to take interest in them,” she said.
The lack of information also extends to referral processes, documents required, service navigation and integration, she said.
To address the issue, outreach teams from her organisation actively go out to engage, educate and draw residents to join their programmes, she added.
“We are constantly seeking new pilots to enhance and value-add our services to meet new arising needs,” she said.
AWWA serves about 3,800 seniors across 11 programmes while St Luke's ElderCare has about 780 staff serving about 5,000 elders.
SENIORS WANT SUPPORT
Members of Parliament (MPs) told CNA they will speak on issues surrounding the community care sector during the upcoming Budget debate.
"How can we all come together and work together to care for our caregivers and elderly? Because they face cost pressures, time pressures, and it's important the community come together and help them as much as possible,” said Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Joan Pereira.
Yio Chu Kang SMC MP Yip Hon Weng’s concern is structuring policies to “engender that shift to have more care within the community”.
“This includes working with all our VWOs (voluntary welfare organisations), our community care agencies, SSOs (social service offices), all our different agencies. How do we put them together? How do we ensure that they are well coordinated to support various aspects of ageing well within the community?” he asked.
Elderly residents CNA spoke to said they would like to age in the community, with some of them afraid of loneliness if they were to live their senior years in institutions. They also said that they have gotten support from social workers in the area.
One senior encouraged the community to help seniors.
“Maybe if you want to improve the lives of the elderly, you can also do some volunteer work and encourage them to join the activity centre and then keep them active. So the more people join in, the population will age gracefully, and you know, have a very fruitful life,” said 76-year-old Andrew Lim.