Ms Cheryl Chan Wei Ling
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development what are the plans or considerations for enhancing home-based care options for young children, seniors and the disabled.
The family plays a critical role in the care of young children, seniors and the disabled. Family members not only provide physical care, but are also an important source of emotional support and love. The Government recognises this, and has put in place a comprehensive suite of support schemes and initiatives to help families care for their loved ones within the home environment.
To support parents in caring for and bonding with their newborns, the Government has been progressively enhancing parental leave provisions, such as maternity, paternity, and shared parental leave over the years. From January 2017, the second week of paternity leave will be mandatory, and from July 2017, shared parental leave will be increased from 1 to 4 weeks.
To further support parents with their caregiving expenses, which may include expenses for home-based care, the Baby Bonus Cash Gift was enhanced last year with the Baby Bonus Plus of $2,000.
The Government has also stepped up efforts to support families in caring for their seniors at home. In the past five years, we have made care more accessible by expanding home-based care capacity, which includes services such as home visits by doctors and nurses, from 3,800 places to 6,900 places. We have also increased centre-based care capacity from 2,100 day places to 3,500 day places, and are growing these capacities further to 10,000 home places and 6,200 day places respectively by 2020.
MOH has also launched a Home & Community Care Masterplan to enable seniors to grow old at home. Initiatives under the plan include (i) training and assessing a new "corps" of domestic eldercarers so that they can anchor good care for seniors at home, (ii) expanding community befriending programmes to strengthen the support network for seniors and their families, (iii) piloting a new model of care that provides home and centre-based care flexibly to meet seniors' needs more holistically; and (iv) investing in research and innovation to pioneer new and better ways of caring for our seniors at home.
The Government further supports caregivers of seniors by putting in place respite services, and defraying caregiving costs through schemes such as Caregiver Training Grant and Seniors' Mobility and Enabling Fund.
Caregivers of loved ones with disabilities can develop or enhance their care skills with the support of the Caregivers’ Training Grant. They can also approach caregiver support centres at Voluntary Welfare Organisations and Special Education schools. In addition, the Government has started a pilot on Home-Based Care Services for Persons with Disabilities aged 16 and above. The pilot provides therapy, personal hygiene care, house-keeping and medication reminder services, to enable Persons with Disabilities to live in their own home, with family, friends and neighbours in the community, and to support their caregivers in the provision of care.
Caregivers requiring the assistance of a Foreign Domestic Worker to care for young children, seniors, or their loved ones with disability are eligible to pay a lower monthly levy as well. They pay a concessionary levy rate of $60 per month, which is $205 less than usual. Those caring for the elderly and Persons with Disabilities at home, whose monthly per capita income is less than $2,600, are also supported through a monthly grant which offsets the cost of hiring a foreign domestic worker.
The family is the first and most important line of support. The Government remains committed to support families to care for their loved ones within the home environment.