Ageing in Singapore: The Future of Community-based Eldercare

Singapore’s population is ageing at a faster rate than most of its neighbours in the region. It is estimated that nearly 10%, or 83,000 seniors, will be living alone by 2030. To accommodate for the care of this growing group of elderly, the Singapore government has introduced initiatives to shift the primary model of care from residential-based nursing homes to community-care, where the community at large should take a concerted effort to care for its elderly.

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Given its higher life expectancies and low birth rates by 2030, Singapore will have the highest percentage of elderly in Southeast Asia and the 5th highest in Asia, at 22.5%, according to the United Nations. This also results in a rapid increase in the old-age dependency ratio which will consequently double to 36.6 by 2030, the highest in the region.

The New Vision for Eldercare

Eldercare in Singapore prior to 2015 has been primarily focused on developing more nursing homes to ensure the availability of basic infrastructure. As highlighted in YCP Solidiance’s latest report “The Future of Eldercare in Singapore”, this was supported by the rapid introduction of more nursing homes to cope with the demand for such services, in which the number of such facilities in Singapore grew by 45% in the period between 2003 and 2015.

In comparison, community-based services were relatively underdeveloped during this period, with a pilot community care project providing cluster support service in senior activity centres only being rolled out in 2014 by the Ministry of Social and Family Development.

Eldercare in Singapore has evolved post-2015, with a strong focus on the provision of community-based care; giving the elderly an opportunity to age gracefully in their community. The number of elderly enrolled in-home and community-based care has also overtook those in residential-care services as of 2018 according to the Ministry of Health (MOH).

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This is further mapped out in the Community Care Vision 2030 spearheaded by MOH and AIC, which is a 4-prong approach to develop a robust community-based network for the elderly. This approach aims to encourage the community to be proactive in its outreach to seniors, while integrating social and healthcare aspects of aged care to better support the elderly.

New Market in Singapore’s Eldercare Sector

The combination of eldercare initiatives is a marked shift from the old eldercare model of nursing homes, to caring for the elderly within the community. This creates an entirely new market in the healthcare sector for the elderly in Singapore, presenting opportunities for the varied stakeholders in the market.

A headlining initiative under the Community Care Vision has been the piloting of new models of eldercare in the community. This includes the Integrated Home and Day Care program, which provides the flexibility for families to combine home-based care with community-based care in senior day-care centres.

Another model of care that has been introduced recently is the Active Ageing Hub, which is a partnership by MOH and Housing Development Board (HDB) to provide elderly-friendly services in new residential projects of mature estates in Singapore, like Ghim Moh and Telok Blangah.

As for the third initiative, the first assisted living public housing project in Bukit Batok, will be released in August 2020. These assisted living homes come with a mandatory care package, which includes services such as 24/7 emergency response, and an on-site community manager.

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