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Speech by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for Social and Family Development, Second Minister for Health, at the Launch of the Pre-Planning Campaign 2023, on 22 July 2023

Type: Official Speeches (All), Official Speeches: Masagos Zulkifli,

Topic(s): Children & Families ,


 

Partners and distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen

 

1        Good afternoon. I am happy to be with all of you this afternoon, to launch the inaugural Pre-Planning Campaign. This is a very important effort, one that is jointly driven by the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social and Family Development and the Public Service Division. 


The importance of pre-planning 

2         All of us, if not most of us make daily plans in our lives. We make weekend plans, weekday plans and what to do in the evening. We also plan for our future such as by saving for rainy days, for our children’s education and for our retirement. We consider what insurance to buy and what investments to make. We think about our assets and our loved ones, and therefore we make Wills. 

3         Likewise, we need to plan for ourselves and our loved ones in the event that we lose our mental capacity. This is what the Advance Care Plan (ACP) and the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) seek to do. What is the difference between an Advanced Care Plan and Lasting Power of Attorney? ACP records our preferences on matters relating to our healthcare, and appoints spokespersons to make decisions on our behalf, when we are unable to. However, the LPA grants an appointed person legal powers over the management of our welfare, our finances and even our property. 

4         An ACP and LPA works together to support our preferences when we are no longer able to make decisions due to a loss in mental capacity. Through both the ACP and LPA, our loved ones become empowered and assured when making decisions.

5         While we certainly do not wish on anyone, the truth is that incidents can happen without warning, and quite suddenly. Rather than leave things to chance, it is better to convey our wishes early on and identify people we trust to advocate for us and make decisions on our behalf. Pre-planning is important for everyone, including myself, and it is more important for the elderly. We want the elderly to be able to have their loved ones support them and manage matters along their preferences, if they were to lose mental capacity.  

6         I’m glad that many Singaporeans see the value of pre-planning instruments. In a survey conducted by the Public Service Division this year, over 9 in 10 respondents agreed that it is important to plan and make arrangements in the event they lose mental capacity or pass away. 

 

The importance of pre-planning 

7         Moving forward, we want to put pre-planning at the forefront of Singaporeans’ minds, and help make pre-planning a natural part of planning for our lives and supporting our loved ones. 

8         We want more Singaporeans to have a better understanding of pre-planning tools and take the next step to complete their LPA and ACP. All of us can take ownership of our health and our care plans.  

9         It is never too early to start doing our LPA and ACP. In fact, it is better to plan early, than react when incidents arise. 

10         Take the example of Mr Goh. Mr Goh’s sister did not make an LPA in time and was found to be unconscious at home one day. After being warded in the hospital for some time, she was diagnosed to be suffering from advanced stage of dementia. If an LPA was made, Mr Goh would have been able to make decisions on his sister’s behalf as her Donee almost immediately. However, in this case, Mr Goh had to apply to the Court to be appointed as her deputy. It was only 6 months later and after spending $7,000 on legal fees that Mr Goh was able to be appointed as his sister’s deputy and given the powers to decide on her personal welfare matters and manage her bank account to pay for her medical care. 

11         Mr Goh is now a proponent of pre-planning among his friends and family, and encourages them not to delay in getting their LPA done. He and his wife have completed their LPAs, empowering their loved ones to act and make decisions should the need arise.

 

Efforts to facilitate LPA and ACP adoption

12         To support more Singaporeans in pre-planning, we have made the application processes for LPA and ACP easier over the years. Since November last year, Singaporeans have been able to go about making an LPA through the Office of Public Guardian Online (OPGO) portal. I’m pleased to note that over 50,000 online applications have been made since, three times more than the preceding year.

13         From April this year, individuals have also been able to book sessions to discuss advance care planning with an ACP facilitator online. To make it more convenient, individuals can choose to make their ACP virtually. 

14         In addition, to increase uptake of LPAs, we have extended the waiver of fees for LPA Form 1 till March 2026. This will be the last extension of the fee waiver. We hope that more Singaporeans will take the opportunity and complete their LPAs. 

 

Launch of Pre-Planning Campaign 

15         Today, I’m pleased to launch the inaugural Pre-Planning Campaign, a concerted effort to further raise awareness and drive adoption of LPA and ACP. 

16         We have developed a one-stop portal MyLegacy@LifeSG for Singaporeans to access resources readily and receive the support needed to complete their LPA and ACP. I’m pleased to know that many, indeed, have found this platform useful. 

17         We will double down on our outreach efforts, and work with a wider range of partners to bring pre-planning closer to home. We will be partnering active ageing centres, grassroots organisations, private and public employers, even religious organisations and of course social service agencies to reach out to more individuals and support them in pre-planning, young and old.

18         As part of the launch of this campaign, there will be talks and roadshows where you can find out more about pre-planning. There will even be free LPA certification and ACP facilitation sessions for seniors aged 50 and above, right here at Our Tampines Hub.  We hope to have more than 240,000 Singaporeans aged 50 and above make their LPA by end-2025.

19         I strongly urge everyone to make full use of the resources available to make an LPA and ACP. Start the discussion with your loved ones and make your wishes and choices known while you can. Give yourself and your loved ones the gift of certainty and encourage one another to make an LPA and ACP today. 

 

Conclusion

20         I would like to thank all our partners for working tirelessly to promote pre-planning. Your work is important, especially for our seniors so that they can age well and with confidence. In this Year of Celebrating Social Service Partners, let us commit to keep up the good work and strengthen our partnerships to help families make plans for their future. 

21         I wish everyone fruitful discussions with your loved ones as you embark on your pre-planning journey. Thank you.