Sending your loved ones to a nursing home can be an emotionally wrenching decision.
But with a small property and no one at home during the weekdays, it may sometimes be the best (or only) plan of action if you need to take care of elderly who needs assistance with daily chores.
Furthermore, given the size of Singapore, it’s easy to visit them as often as you wish to.
If that’s what you and your family have decided to do but are at a loss of where to start, here’s a detailed 101 guide to nursing homes in Singapore, their cost, and steps to apply.
Nursing homes in Singapore
Nursing homes are long-term residential care facilities where elderly can receive assistance in daily life activities.
As opposed to a daycare centre or a community home where elderly live together but are otherwise largely independent, nursing homes are for elderly who need assistance in things like going to the toilet, showering, eating and walking.
Usually, there will be professional nursing care that will take care of medical needs ranging from changing of urine catheter to dressing of wounds as well as exercises and games with other elderly.
If your elderly parents or grandparents are suffering from mental conditions such as dementia or psychiatric conditions, nursing homes can be safe havens where someone will be on the constant lookout for them, and they can go through cognitive stimulation programmes and activities to slow down the loss of mental capacity.
Nursing homes that offer long-term advanced medical care for terminally ill patients are broadly categorised under as hospice care.
If a senior citizen only requires short-term medical care, a community hospital with the right rehabilitative facilities might be more suitable.
How much do nursing homes in Singapore cost?
The general cost for nursing homes is around $1,200 to $3,500 a month before government subsidy, which ranges from 10% to 75%. This cost varies based on the number of people sharing a bedroom and the level of care required. For those who opt for private single-bed rooms, it will cost around $4,000 to $6,500 a month. There are also additional variable charges (where applicable) such as like adult diapers, special feeds, ambulance services, therapy sessions and so on.
There are two main types of nursing homes in Singapore – private ones and those which are considered Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWO).
Since April 2003, MOH has extended subsidies to elderly people who are admitted into accredited private nursing homes and who meet the criteria. Thus, the subsidy scheme isn’t as straightforward as simply applicable for VWO nursing homes and not applicable for private nursing homes.
Private ones like Orange Valley may have branches that are eligible for MOH subsidies, while VWO nursing homes such as All Saints Home (certain branches) could be not covered under MOH subsidy scheme. These non-profit nursing homes are funded through their own fund-raising efforts and offer their own financial assistance schemes to elderly people who can’t afford the fees.
The list of nursing homes in this table is meant to give a general idea of the cost in Singapore and is by no means exhaustive.
|Nursing homes||Price range (SGD) / month|
|VWO Nursing Homes under MOH Subsidy|
|Grace Lodge||Most of the nursing homes in this category will cost an estimated price range of $700 – 1,600 after subsidy. The amount of subsidy depends on the means test.|
|All Saints Home (certain branches)|
|Jamiyah Nursing Home|
|Lion’s Home for the Elders|
|Ren Ci Nursing Home|
|Assisi Hospice||$8,850 (before subsidy)|
|Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital||$1,460 – $2,289 (before subsidy)|
|St. Andrew’s Nursing Home||$1,300 – $2,300 (before subsidy)|
|NTUC Health Nursing Home||$2,000 – $3,500 (before subsidy)|
|Apex Harmony Lodge||$3,150 – $3,400 (before subsidy)|
|VWO Nursing Homes not under MOH Subsidy|
|All Saints Home (certain branches)||$1,400 – $2,800|
|Private Nursing Homes under MOH Subsidy|
|Econ Medicare Centre and Nursing Home (certain branches)||$1,200 – $4,500 (before subsidy)|
|Orange Valley Nursing Home (certain branches)||$1,200 – $4,500 (before subsidy)|
|Private Nursing Homes not under MOH Subsidy|
|Econ Medicare Centre and Nursing Home (certain branches)||$1,200 – $4,500|
|Orange Valley Nursing Home (certain branches)||$1,200 – $4,500|
How do you get a nursing home subsidy?
To get subsidy for a nursing home, one must first be a Singapore Citizen or a Permanent Resident. One must also meet the means test criteria and be already receiving care from an MOH-funded service provider.
The means test is based on the following factors:
- Gross income of the person who needs care and his/her direct family
- Totally number of family members living under the same household
- Annual value of the place of residence
There are different levels of subsidies for different income groups. The table below shows the subsidies for patients in a nursing home/hospice.
|Household Per Capita Monthly Income||Subsidy Rate (%)|
|Singapore Citizens||Permanent Residents|
|$700 and below||75||50|
|$701 to $1,100||60||40|
|$1,101 to $1,800||50||30|
|$1,801 to $2,600||40||20|
|$2,601 to $3,100||20||10|
|$3,101 and above||0||0|
How to apply for a nursing home in Singapore
One of the key criteria for choosing a nursing home is location.
It’s best to find a nursing home nearer to home for ease of visiting. You can find a list of nursing homes in Singapore using the E-care locator on www.silverpages.sg.
To be eligible for enrolment into a nursing home, an elderly person must be:
- Physically or mentally disabled due to illness
- Have difficulty with walking – either reliant on a wheelchair or is bedbound, and therefore need assistance with daily activities like going to the toilet.
- Unable to be cared for at home by family members or a caregiver and have tried other care alternatives like home nursing services or day care.
- Eligible for a means test (an assessment to check the household monthly income per person) for MOH subsidies
To apply for a VWO nursing home, you should get a referral from a Medical Social Worker of a hospital or a polyclinic.
The Social Worker will then assist you to submit the referral and an application to the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC), which is a government agency that manages the availability of VWO nursing homes in Singapore.
This will allow you to be eligible for government subsidies (if applicable to the nursing home) after a means test has been conducted.
Another way is to apply directly with the preferred private nursing home where you would be paying private nursing rates.
Alternative: Nursing homes in Johor Bahru
Are there any alternatives if the cost of nursing homes in Singapore is too much for your household to bear? Well, nursing homes in Johor Bahru are becoming increasingly popular amongst Singaporeans.
The cost there is much lower (even when compared to cost after government subsidy) for the same services and a much bigger living space is provided. One example is Spring Valley Homecare in JB. It costs about SGD $600 to $1,000 a month depending on the level of care needed.
A local nursing home, Econ Medicare Centre and Nursing Home, which is under the Econ Healthcare Group has 10 centres in Singapore and Malaysia. The cost of its Malaysian centres is about 30% cheaper than its Singapore counterparts. For those who don’t mind the extra travelling, the cost seems very attractive.
But, take note that other than the disadvantage of being further away from family members, the lack of governmental support and assistance is another. Needless to say, you will not enjoy subsidies or assistance at a JB nursing home.