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The Future of Eldercare in Singapore

30 Sep 2021 | Southeast Asia

Since the 1970s, Singapore has experienced a low fertility rate of under 2.1 births per woman on average. The country has forecasted a rapidly increasing aging population, taking over 25 percent of the total residents by 2030.

The event was a part of Singapore's successful attempt to maintain longevity, resulting in its citizens' growing average life expectancy to 83 years old. However, the aging population holds several implications for the country.

The growing numbers of older adults would need further care supposedly done by their younger family members, which shows inadequacy number-wise due to the low fertility rates.

Thus, the demand for caregiver services increases to cater to older adults aged 60 years and more. By 2030, the family eldercare services are forecasted to grow by 41 percent, with longer hours ranging from 29 to 41 hours per week.

Responding to the growing cause, the Government of Singapore has launched the Action Plan for Successful Aging program in 2015. The program outlines various sectors' policy-making for developments, including employability, volunteerism, health and wellness, social engagements and inclusion, lifelong learning, housing transport, public spaces, research, and eldercare services.

The current condition of eldercare services

Singapore eldercare services

In 2009, Singapore's Ministry of Health had launched the Agency for Integrated Care as a measure to integrate the eldercare sector. Since its first establishment, the agency has improved Singaporean citizens' access to care and support caregivers through developing the sector's infrastructure.

Today, the eldercare services sector is an ecosystem that consists of 71 nursing homes, two inpatient hospitals, 81 base care facilities, 17 home care providers, and seven palliative care providers - both public and privately owned.

The future landscape of the eldercare services in Singapore

Since 2017, the Singapore government has been planning to add several elderly services programs designed to enhance the social and medical community integration. One of the more effective programs is the Hospital-to-Home program running in five zones under the SingHealth Regional Health System Southeast Region.

The Hospital-to-Home program aims to meet the needs of older people included in the underprivileged communities with higher risks to diseases and morbidity, operating as a platform that connects patients with a network of care providers and allows caregivers to conduct mobile medical activities.

Today, the program has been piloted in 11 sites in Singapore, providing registered nurses and healthcare assistants working at nearby hospitals and care facilities to deliver their services at the patient homes.

Challenges faced by the eldercare services sector

The rapidly aging population of Singapore residents poses an urgent need for policy reformulation to capitalize on the conditions awaiting in the near future.

While Singapore's government has made multiple arrangements to ease access to elderly services in the country, the presence of private investments and traffic of private industry players are yet to be dominated. The absence of dynamic activities in the ecosystem puts the elderly services sector in a stagnant stance.

As the aging population gradually occurs, elderly care in Singapore is bound to record exponential growth in the ecosystem.

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