Elderly Care in Singapore – Cost Guide to Your Options

elderly care options singapore 2018

Singapore’s ageing population has been a cause for national alarm for some time. Yet the question of what we should do for our elderly – our grandparents, parents and older relatives – gets no easier.

Should we leave old folks at home in the care of a maid? Place them in an old folks home or nursing home (and face the judgment of our peers)? What else can we do to better care for the elderly and meet their changing needs?

Just how bad is the ageing population in Singapore?

Singapore’s population is ageing fast. By 2030, 1 in 4 people here will be past retirement age. That’ll make it nearly a million people, which is almost the double the current elderly population.

At the same time, life expectancy is expected to increase. Not to be crude about it, but this means the large population of seniors will be around for a longer time than ever before. So it’s important on a national level to think about how to care for them.

This year, the government announced CareShield Life, a compulsory national long-term care insurance, which will replace ElderShield in 2020. It’s meant to provide for people with severe disabilities and will pay for their basic needs for the rest of their life.

But that’s the financial part. But what about the care itself? Your elderly care options will depend on how much medical support is needed. 

Daycare for the elderly – for healthy seniors

For elderly folks who are mobile and healthy, but just bored of watching the same old dramas on Channel 8, there are daycare centres for them to interact with their peers and take part in activities that keep them occupied and alert.

Where to go:

  • AWWA Senior Activity Centre
  • Bo Tien Day Activity Centre for the Elderly
  • ECON Healthcare Group
  • Goldencare Senior Day Care Centre
  • Hovi Care Senior Activity Centre
  • NTUC Health (Silver Circle senior care centres)
  • Orange Valley
  • Senior Activity Centres (SACs) by AIC

Cost: There’s a big range as it depends on the type of activity. Many organised by SACs by AIC are free, while enrolling in a privately run activity centre can cost from $250 to $1,200/month.

Healthcare centres – for seniors who need a little medical care

Many seniors have some form of health issue or other. If they do not need constant attention but merely some form of rehabilitation, these are places where sick or disabled seniors can spend the day or a few hours for medical care.

Where to go:

  • AWWA Rehab and Day Care Centre
  • Hua Mei Elder Person-centred Integrated Comprehensive Care (EPICC) 
  • Goldencare Senior Day Care Centre
  • St Luke’s Eldercare
  • Metta Day Rehabilitation Centre for the Elderly
  • United Medicare Centre

The government has subsidies for centre-based healthcare for the elderly. Included in this category are: day rehabilitation centres, dementia daycare centres, psychiatric daycare centres and rehabilitation homes.

Cost: You are charged per session of therapy or rehabilitation. Fees range from $6 to $160 per session before subsidies.

Hiring domestic help – for healthy seniors who need company

If your elderly loved one is fairly healthy and values his personal space, a domestic helper is a good option. Some helpers are either medically trained or have experience caring for seniors.

You can tap on several government assistance schemes to pay for the FDW you hire for such purposes: FDW Grant and FDW Levy Concession. These basically cap your monthly costs at a manageable amount.

There’s also a Caregivers Training Grant of $200 a year, which you can use to send your helper for courses to train her to better care of the elderly. The trainer can even come to your home to conduct classes.

For more independent seniors who don’t require round-the-clock care or supervision, consider hiring a part-time caregiver instead.

Where to go:

  • Caregiver Asia
  • Comfort Keepers
  • Familiz
  • Homage
  • NTUC Health
  • SilverAlly

Cost: A live-in helper generally costs $600 to $850/month before subsidies and grants. A part-time caregiver costs $20 to $25/hour.

Live-in nurse – for seniors who need constant medical care

If your elderly relative needs a greater level of care, you might want to consider a nurse, aide or trained caregiver instead of (or in addition to) a regular helper.

Nurses and nurse aides have medical training, while trained caregivers watch over their charges 24/7, helping them with personal care, meals and medication. That’s unlike domestic helpers, whose core duties are more on household tasks.

Where to go:

  • Active Global Specialised Caregivers
  • Anglo Nurses
  • Nicole Consultancy
  • Sue Private Nurses Agency
  • Xedge Resources

There are also a few government schemes to help pay for this, including subsidies for home-based care. For disabled seniors, there’s Eldershield and the Pioneer Disability Assistance Scheme.

You can also get subsidies to buy assistive devices, home healthcare items or for transport to bring the elderly to day services at MOH-funded facilities through the Senior Mobility and Enabling Fund.

Cost: $600 to $1,000/month before subsidies

Nursing homes a.k.a. old folks’ homes – for constant medical care

Finally, nursing homes or old folks’ home are generally a last recourse for Singaporeans. Sending your relative to a home is not an easy or pleasant decision because most don’t want to live out their last days that way.

It’s also more expensive than a live-in helper. Often, those who opt for this have no choice as the elderly who are ill or disabled and require 24/7 care that the family cannot provide.

There are some 70 nursing homes in Singapore. Some are really nothing more than a bed and medical care, and have given old folks homes the bad rep it has.

But there are homes that have a more holistic care strategy, with activities that stimulate the body and mind, such as NTUC Health Nursing Home, ECON Nursing Home and Orange Valley. On average they cost $1,200 to $3,500/month.

On the high end of the spectrum, there’s St. Bernadette Lifestyle Village where residents live independently and get to participate in outings, activities and games, while having easy access to medical care via the 24-hour medical concierge. It costs a cool $3,650/month.

At MOH-run public nursing homes and Medifund accredited private homes, you can offset the costs with government subsidies for residential services.

Cost: Expect to spend about $1,200 to $3,500/month, before subsidies.

What is the best elderly care option in your opinion? Share your views with us in the comments.