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Healthcare Services for the Elderly Types of Services

Health care services for the elderly is mostly run by the voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs). Government financial assistance is provided to these VWOs. There are 2 geriatric day hospitals, 4 community-based hospitals, 3 chronic sick hospitals, 50 nursing homes, 28 day rehabilitation centres and 6 VWOs with home help, 6 VWOs with home medical and 7 VWOs with home nursing services providing for the health care needs of the elderly in Singapore.

To address the concerns on increasing health needs by the rapidly ageing population, the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Health Care for the Elderly (IMC) was set up in 1997 to put in place policies and strategies for the adequate provision of health care for the elderly, and to ensure that their long-term care is affordable to the individual, family, community and country.

The IMC has recommended a two-pronged approach to looking after the health care needs of the elderly. Firstly, health promotion and disease prevention to enable the elderly to remain healthy and active in the community. Secondly, when disease and disability set in, the system must be able to provide appropriate and cost-effective health care according to each elderly person’s need, so as to achieve maximum functional capability. As the elderly generally want to live with their families, they are to be cared for in their own homes for as long as possible. To be forced to stay in an institution for the elderly should only be a measure of last resort.

The key recommendations cover health promotion and disease prevention, screening and early detection of illness and disability, better training in geriatric care for medical undergraduates and general practitioners, development of long-term care facilities and services in partnership with VWOs, ensuring standards of health care services, and measures to finance long-term care.