NURSING home guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health (MOH) include staff-to-resident ratios which ensure that residents are adequately cared for. The ratios are calculated according to the state of the residents’ health, and are used to work out the number of staff that nursing home operators should assign to them. Residents are classified by MOH into four “functional” categories.
Category One are those who are physically and mentally independent and therefore require less attention. MOH guidelines state that one staff member may care for up to 30 residents in this group.
Category Two are semi-mobile and require some physical help and supervision in daily activities. They require a ratio of one staff member to eight residents.
Category Three residents may be wheelchair- or bed-bound, and may have dementia, psychiatric or behavioural problems. The staff-to-resident ratio is 1:4.
Category Four are the most dependent. They may have dementia, psychiatric and behavioural problems, and require total assistance and supervision for every aspect of their daily lives. For these residents, MOH requires operators to have a staff-to-resident ratio of 1:2.
Number of nursing homes: Singapore has about 60, with a total of 9,300 beds. This number will rise to 14,000 in the next decade after the building of two new homes and the upgrading and relocating of four others.
Types of patients: The majority are wheelchair-bound or bedridden, without caregivers to look after them at home.
Subsidies: Of the homes here, half receive subsidies from MOH and are run by voluntary welfare organisations. The rest are privately run.
Charges: The full fees at nursing homes run by VWOs are between $1,200 and $2,100 a month. However, subsidies mean that those covered generally pay between $300 and $1,800 a month. Fees at private nursing homes range from $1,600 to $3,600 depending on the amount of care given, the type of bed and the facilities available.
Staff-to-patient ratio: According to MOH, this depends on the level of help the patients need. For Category Three patients, who are generally wheelchair bound, the staffing ratio is one caregiver to every four patients. For bedridden patients, many of whom need to be fed by a tube, a home should have at least one caregiver for every two patients.