Singapore's palliative care sector to get boost

SINGAPORE - A national strategy for palliative care is on the way, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.

At the 42nd anniversary dinner of Assisi Hospice, Mr Gan said details of the plan will be announced soon.

He noted that medical care that people required at the end of their lives has changed significantly due to factors such as living longer and the rise in chronic diseases.

While palliative care has historically focused on patients in advanced stages of cancer, Mr Gan said there is increasing recognition that patients with non-cancer illnesses could also benefit from palliative care.

He cited examples of people dying after a period of progressive disability due to incurable conditions, progressive organ failure or advanced dementia.

The number of health-care professionals trained in palliative care has also increased.

Nurses trained in palliative care increased from 257 to 294 since last year - a 14 per cent increase.

The Ministry of Health said it would also continue to work with the palliative care community to raise awareness on end-of-life issues because many had misconceptions about this subject, and still consider death a taboo topic.

Singapore's 42-year-old Assisi Hospice, which has been offering compassionate and palliative care for patients will be redeveloped in order to expand and train the palliative care sector.

By the end of 2014, the hospice will also have a new purpose-built wing adjacent to the current complex at Thomson Road.