New Users Registration  |  Useful Links  |  FAQ  |  Site Map 
Go Search


Skip Navigation LinksHealth Xchange > News
  2013 2015   Dec 2015 | Nov 2015 | Oct 2015 | Sep 2015 | Aug 2015 | Jul 2015 | Jun 2015 | May 2015 | Apr 2015 | Mar 2015 | Feb 2015 | Jan 2015 |
  2013 2014   Dec 2014 | Nov 2014 | Oct 2014 | Sep 2014 | Aug 2014 | Jul 2014 | Jun 2014 | May 2014 | Apr 2014 | Mar 2014 | Feb 2014 | Jan 2014 |
  2013   Dec 2013 | Nov 2013 | Oct 2013 | Sep 2013 | Aug 2013 | Jul 2013 | Jun 2013 | May 2013 | Apr 2013 | Mar 2013 | Feb 2013 | Jan 2013 |
  2012   Dec 2012 | Nov 2012 | Oct 2012 | Sep 2012 | Aug 2012 | Jul 2012Jun 2012May 2012Apr 2012Mar 2012 | Feb 2012 | Jan 2012 |
  2011   Dec 2011Nov 2011Oct 2011 | Sep 2011 | Aug 2011Jul 2011Jun 2011 | May 2011 | Apr 2011 | Mar 2011 | Feb 2011 | Jan 2011 |
  2010   Dec 2010 | Nov 2010 | Oct 2010 | Sep 2010 | Aug 2010 | Jul 2010 | Jun 2010 | May 2010 | Apr 2010 | Mar 2010 | Feb 2010 | Jan 2010 |
  2009   Dec 2009 | Nov 2009 | Oct 2009 | Sep 2009 | Aug 2009 |
  Health Policy and Announcements | Diseases and Outbreaks
  Medical Research | New Treatments and Technology
  Singapore   SingHealth | Health Promotion Board | Ministry of Health | Asiaone
  International   World Health Organization | Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (US)
  News Article  

Long Term Care for the Elderly - Home-Care Services

  Saturday, 13 l 11 l 2010 Source:  The Straits Times   
By: Radha Basu

Home-care-servicesMADAM Ong Ah Poo lies still, oblivious to the four adults fretting over her. The 81-year-old former construction worker has been bedridden since a stroke in May.

Home-care physician Tham Weng Yew is visiting this morning. Over the next two hours, he and a nurse check Madam Ong’s vital signs and cognitive functions and discuss her daily care, as well as that of her husband, Mr Ng Sin Guan, 87, who has Alzheimer’s.  The youngest of the elderly couple’s seven children, Ms Irene Ng, 47, dutifully jots down notes.

Dr Tham recommends cutting down some medicine,
reminds Ms Ng not to force-feed her mother and warns against giving her too much water. “She could choke, the water could go into her lungs and she could end up in hospital,” he warns. “That’s something we must avoid.” Dr Tham is employed by a private firm, Code 4, which arranges home care for home-bound patients like Madam Ong.

Such a visit normally costs up to $220, but Ms Ng – her parents’ caregiver – pays only $72, thanks to a subsidy from a charitable foundation. The unmarried florist, who earns $1,150 a month, is thankful for these quarterly home visits by Dr Tham. “I would need to hire an ambulance to take them to see a doctor,” she says. “This way, they get medical care in the comfort of home.”

Even as clients like Ms Ng swear by their care, home-care providers like Code 4 – which has three doctors including Dr Tham – are struggling to stay afloat. On Dec 31 last year, Ren Ci Home Care, which funded Code 4’s work, ceased operations because of the “escalating operating deficits” of its home-care arm.
A Ren Ci spokesman told The Straits Times that the voluntary welfare organisation, which runs a community hospital, a chronic sick unit and a nursing home, wanted to optimise resources by focusing on in-patient services. Since then, Code 4 has been fighting an uphill battle to keep offering home-based treatment to its 190 or so clients. As a private company, Code 4 cannot raise funds and does not receive government subsidies. It has secured some funds from a private foundation to enable it to subsidise patients for two years or so, says Dr Tham, a senior home-care physician. “But there is no doubt that because of a lack of funds, this is a tough field to survive in.”

He and other home-care physicians believe that home-based medical care could stave off institutionalisation for the growing number of frail and immobile old folk in Singapore. But such care is expensive. According to Dr Ng Wai Chong of home medical provider Hua Mei Mobile Clinic, such care costs $8,000 per patient each year. “But the current government subsidies we receive are only about 5 per cent of that cost,” says Dr Ng, a home-care doctor who is assistant director of the clinic.


HOW MANY: Singapore is served by five home medical organisations run by voluntary welfare organisations, nine home nursing providers and seven home therapy providers.

TYPE OF PATIENTS: Home medical care is an expensive but attractive option for those who are very ill – such as patients with stroke, dementia or cancer – and yet are being cared for at home. Home care providers offer a variety of services, including home visits by doctors, nurses and physiotherapists.

SUBSIDIES: The Ministry of Health (MOH) subsidises doctors’ fees by between $30 and $100 per visit, depending on the family income of the patient, capped at two visits a month. MOH subsidies for nurses’ visits range from $15 to $40 per visit, capped at eight visits per month. There is no subsidy for consumables such
as feeding tubes or bandages that a patient might need.

FEES: According to home medical providers, each visit by a doctor could cost about $220. Home therapy costs
$80 to $130 per visit, depending on the type of service and frequency of needs.

 Ask the Specialists (1st - 30th Nov)
Gastric Pain, what can I do?
Your Gastric Pain could be a signal of a more serious condition that needs attention; or that you need a change in lifestyle. Ask our Specialist now!
  Your eye and contact lenses
Concerned with the side effects of wearing contact lens? Need a guide on how to take care of your eyes and lenses? Ask our Specialist now!
 Ask the Specialists - Answered Topics
  Aesthetic Eye   Asthma  
  Breast Cancer   Cancer and Nutrition  
  Child's Eye Conditions   Depression  
  Breast Cancer   Eczema  
  Elderly Eye Conditions   Health At Work  
  Heart Disease   LASIK  
  Low Back Pain   Maternal Depression  
  Money and Healthcare   Managing Pain  
  Pre-pregnancy   Prostate Problem  
  Risk of Heart Disease   Sleep  
  Sports Injuries   Thyroid Problems  
  Weight Management        
 Catch up with Health Xchange
  facebook   newsletter