Assisi Hospice moving to bigger facility in 2015

SINGAPORE - Assisi Hospice will be moving to new premises in 2015 that will more than double its current capacity of 36 patients.

The new 85-bed facility - sited close to the existing Thomson Road location - will have 48 single rooms, with the rest being two- or four-bed rooms.

Run by Catholic order Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood, it has raised the $13 million for the project - $8 million for non-standard features and $5 million for its 10 per cent share of the standard cost. The Ministry of Health (MOH) will provide the remaining $45 million to build and furnish the hospice.

Assisi is one of six inpatient hospices which provide palliative care to terminally ill patients. Such care includes the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects.

Assisi decided to expand "because of the number of people dying while on the waiting list", said its executive director Irene Chan, 43.

On a typical day, there are 12 to 15 people waiting for a bed but it could get as high as 20.

Greenery will be a prominent feature in the new hospice on 5,515 sq m of land since it provides the tranquillity many patients crave.

It will also have $8 million worth of non-standard features such as a chapel, a labyrinth and two family rooms where families of patients can stay the night.

Catholics make up 15 per cent of its patients but Ms Chan said patients of other religions also use its current chapel when they need quiet time.

The labyrinth provides a meditative walk and guides patients to think of their life, she added.

While the two alfresco-style dining areas are a new feature, the MOH has agreed to class them as standard in terms of building subsidy.

Most hospice patients eat in their rooms, often in their beds, very much like hospital patients. "Eating with the family is always a joy," said Ms Chan, who wants to provide these dying patients quality time with family in their last days.

Family members will need to bring their own food, or buy it from a cafe downstairs.

Assisi will need to raise funds to underwrite the difference between what patients pay and the actual cost.

It charges $210 a day, with patients who get maximum government subsidy paying $3.25 a day.

Its cost is close to $400 a patient daily.

Last year, it looked after 444 inpatients, 101 people at its day-care facilities and provided home-care palliative services to 675 patients. The vast majority are from public hospitals.

Among its 90 staff are five full-time doctors trained in palliative care.

Taking in 49 more patients means it will need a lot more money, said Ms Chan. It will also have to beef up its staff to 250, including 12 full-time doctors.

Patients are typically at the hospice for 25 days but she noted: "Evidence has shown that people who come to the hospice actually live longer and have a better quality of life.

"I have had many patients who have gone home and lived a good 12 months or more."

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