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HNF raises public awareness of home care resources

SINGAPORE — Ang Mo Kio resident Law Joo Kim, 76, has regular back pains and often turns to her daughter for advice on accessing medical services.

Dr Lam Pin Min with attendees at the launch of the Home Nursing Foundation's first  ‘Community Awareness Carnival’. Photo: Home Nursing Foundation

Dr Lam Pin Min with attendees at the launch of the Home Nursing Foundation's first ‘Community Awareness Carnival’. Photo: Home Nursing Foundation

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SINGAPORE — Ang Mo Kio resident Law Joo Kim, 76, has regular back pains and often turns to her daughter for advice on accessing medical services.

The only medical care would be at the hospitals, said Madam Law, who had not heard about home care services until yesterday.

“Every day, I’m already so tired,” she said. “How will it be possible to have the time to go and find out more about other medical services?”

Like her, several other elderly persons told TODAY that they usually turn to family doctors or polyclinics near their home for medical help, and raised concerns about additional costs if they do seek home care services.

Acknowledging this knowledge gap in society, Singapore’s biggest home-healthcare provider, the Home Nursing Foundation (HNF), which accounts for 60 per cent of home care services, organised its first community carnival yesterday to raise awareness of home care resources.

Other plans such as working with the Agency for Integrated Care to provide one-stop information in hospitals and having the HNF’s medical personnel help families navigate the wide array of resources are in the pipeline.

HNF chief executive Karen Lee told reporters: “Because of the sheer number of resources, and they’re offered by a variety of providers, it can get confusing (for families).” She said when people start to source for help when illness kicks in, it would be a stressful period and hence the need to raise awareness so that the community can remember such information.

Beyond communicating the information simply and using different languages, Ms Lee said there was a need for “someone to walk through the journey with the family”, to discuss which resources best suit their current needs.

She added that the HNF will be training staff over the next one to two years to equip them with knowledge of available resources so that they can advise patients expeditiously.

The HNF plans to ramp up capacity by over 50 per cent by 2018, from 2,500 active patients, to cater for 3,900 medical or nursing cases and 680 home therapy cases. It has now reached about 3,000 cases.

The challenge home care providers face in raising awareness, however, would be in coping with demand for services and the lack of budget for big publicity drives, Ms Lee said.

Speaking at the HNF’s carnival in Ang Mo Kio Central, Minister for State (Health) Lam Pin Min noted that Singapore’s ageing population will surge to one in four by 2030, from one in eight today.

He reiterated the need for home care services and said the ministry’s focus is on ensuring such services remain affordable, and the aim is to partner with care providers to have 10,000 home care places and 6,200 day care places by 2020. NG JING YNG

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