Assisi to double capacity for end-of-life care

PHOTO: Assisi to double capacity for end-of-life care

SINGAPORE - To better meet an increasing need for end-of-life care, Assisi Hospice will be redeveloped and get a bigger building.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said this yesterday at Assisi Hospice's 42nd anniversary and charity dinner at Pan Pacific Singapore hotel.

The Ministry of Health will work with Assisi on its plans.

The new hospice building, to be built next to Mount Alvernia Hospital, may be opened by the end of 2014. It will set aside places to help train caregivers and other health-care professionals.

It plans to double its capacity for palliative care, which ensures that patients are comfortable in the final stages of their lives. Assisi has 36 beds currently and cared for more than 1,000 patients last year.

"Our population is growing and ageing rapidly. Hospice care is now an urgent matter," Mr Ronny Tan, chairman of Assisi, said at the dinner. "We anticipate a further increase in demand for our services, especially with the rising awareness of palliative care."

Mr Gan said Singapore has "made good progress" in developing its palliative-care services, with seven in-patient and home-hospice providers caring for about 5,000 patients every year.

There are now about 300 nurses trained to provide palliative care, up from 257 last year.

Mr Gan said more details about the country's strategy for palliative care will be unveiled soon.

He called for more discussions on end-of-life care and treatment decisions between patients, their families and health-care professionals. Such discussions are already taking place in a three-year pilot programme.

"Preliminary results from the pilot have been encouraging and we intend to scale up such initiatives across the health-care continuum in the coming years," said Mr Gan.

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