Consolidation of services offered in community hospitals and inpatient hospicespublished by Lianhe Zaobao on April 1, 2020
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Consolidation of services offered in community hospitals and inpatient hospices
End-of-life patients with fluctuating care needs do not need to transfer to different care facilities
Ministry of Health (MOH) announced in a release yesterday on a consolidation of the existing inpatient services offered in community hospitals and inpatient hospices under a common inpatient palliative care service framework. This new framework will improve the quality, accessibility and affordability of inpatient palliative service for patients, and provide greater reassurance for patients and their caregivers.
From today, end-of-life patients need not transfer from one care facility to another due to changes in their health condition and fluctuating care needs, regardless of whether they are in a community hospital or hospice, they would be able to receive the care services that they need, and they would be able to claim from MediShield Life.
In a media release by MOH yesterday, it announced a consolidation of existing inpatient services of community hospitals and hospices, under a common Inpatient Hospice Palliative Care Service (IHPCS) framework.
Minister for Health Mr Gan Kin Yong was quoted in the release, saying that the new framework will improve patients’ access to high quality, holistic and affordable inpatient palliative care, providing greater reassurance to end-of-life patients and their caregivers.
According to the new framework, all palliative care service providers will provide a standard scope of services to meet the needs of palliative patients, tiered into general and specialised palliative care.
General palliative care for inpatient end-of-life patients include relieving symptoms such as pain and breathlessness through oral and subcutaneous medication, as well as socio-emotional support for patients and their caregivers. Specialised palliative care is for patients with complex needs that require higher levels of care, including administration of intravenous medication and specialised wound care for complex wounds.
Dr Patricia Neo, Chairman of Singapore Hospice Council said, currently, majority of the end-of-life patients are referred from acute hospitals to community hospitals, and if their health condition fluctuates or worsens, they will be referred to hospices. She said, “With the new framework, patients with fluctuating health condition need not transfer, they can continue to receive the appropriate care in the community hospitals. The patients can also receive different care services according to their needs.”
Patients can also be referred to Inpatient palliative care service by General Practitioners or palliative home care service providers.
Singapore residents are eligible for means-tested Government subsidies of up to 75%. They can also draw on their MediShield Life coverage and use their MediSave for payment of palliative care services. The MediSave limit for patients under General Palliative Care is $250, while the limit for patients under Specialised Palliative Care is $350.
Existing inpatient hospice providers are Assisi Hospice, Bright Vision Hospital, Dover Park Hospice and St Joseph’s Home. Existing Community Hospital-Palliative providers are: Ang Mo Kio-Thye Hua Kwan Hospital, Sengkang Community Hospital, St Andrew’s Community Hospital, St Luke’s Hospital and Yishun Community Hospital.
Mr Mahfudz Bin Mohamed (69 years old) was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer. He is now under palliative care in Assisi Hospice. He is single and used to be a technician. He stopped working 15 years ago and is financially supported by his youngest sister. As he had difficulty walking and needed the wheelchair to move around, his elderly sister who was staying with him found it challenging to take care of him.
He said, “I have been using MediSave to pay my hospice bills. I have to pay $53.50 a day, and I am worried as my MediSave is running out soon. With the new initiative, I only have to pay $17 a day. I am so relieved. Even when my MediSave runs out, the financial burden on my family will not be so heavy.”