Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song asked the Minister for Health (a) in the last six months, how many local nursing homes have not been able to maintain the required ratio of care staff to residents for (i) Category I (ii) Category II (iii) Category III and (iv) Category IV residents respectively; and (b) what are the Ministry’s plans to assist the nursing homes to meet the level of staffing and level of professional skills required.
The Senior Minister of State for Health (Dr Janil Puthucheary) (for the Minister for Health): Sir, all nursing homes inspected within the last six months met the required staffing ratios. Nevertheless, many healthcare institutions, including nursing homes, face a tight manpower situation, as healthcare workers are in great demand throughout the world.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) works with the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) to attract jobseekers into the community care sector, including nursing homes. They also work closely with nursing homes to develop healthcare workers professionally. This includes the Community Care Traineeship Programme for their newly-hired local healthcare and therapy assistants; and providing subsidies through AIC-appointed Learning Institutes for a range of developmental and skills training programmes. In addition, we are stepping up efforts to recruit foreign nurses to work in Singapore.
Mr Deputy Speaker: Mr Giam.
Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song (Aljunied): I thank the Senior Minister of State for his reply. The Lien Foundation’s long-term care manpower study found that the compensation of local nurses, local nursing aides and healthcare assistants in the long-term care sector, is low compared to their counterparts in hospitals. Are there any plans to bring local Intermediate and Long-term Care (ILTC) staff’s pay and benefits up to, at least, the level of the restructured hospitals, so that they can better attract and retain local staff?
Secondly, among the nursing homes, are there salary norms that are set by the Ministry of Health (MOH) that they are supposed to meet and what is the compliance rate of this among nursing homes?
Dr Janil Puthucheary: Sir, I thank Mr Giam for the questions. We do regularly review the compensation for all the healthcare workers in all the sectors, as well as whether there is a significant variance across the norms. This is a matter under review. I do not have any specific announcements about plans to review at this point in time, but it is an ongoing work. We will update the House at appropriate junctures.
I do not have the data for compliance rates amongst the different providers in the long-term care sector. If the Member would like to file a specific question on that, for oral or written answer, I would be happy to provide the data.
Ministry of Health
6 March 2023