The Ministry of Health (MOH) may be setting up an agency that offers "free advice" to help old folks home operators comply with the proposed Aged Healthcare Act before it is enforced.

On 16 October, the ministry added a new law to the Act that has been proposed since August 2014, to put a stop to neglected conditions in old folks homes by punishing operators that provide inadequate care and facilities for the resident seniors.

Deputy director-general Datuk Dr. Jeyaindran said that proposed agency would develop good rapport between operators and regulators as both wanted the same thing - delivery of healthcare to the aged while ensuring their safety.

Two-year grace period to adapt to new law

Taking Singapore as an example, Dr. Jeyaindran said that the neighbouring country had a similar agency to guide and monitor operators during a two-year grace period for them to comply with its new law and understand what they need to do when the Act is in place.

"For example, they must know about the compulsory courses for their staff to attend and the required ratio of nurses and caregivers.

"It's a big move so we want to help make the implementation of the Act to go as smoothly as possible," he said, adding that the Bill was in the final stages of review and would be tabled in Parliament next year.

Similar to Singapore, the country's growing ageing population, he said, had taken a huge toll on the resources of the MOH.

Although a 10% increase from 2016 was allocated to the MOH in Budget 2017, the amount is only enough to offset the 15% to 20% increase in patient load, especially among the elderly who recover in longer times.

"Seniors occupy hospital beds longer. And some 25% of the elderly patients who are warded, don't need to be.

"For example, a diabetic doesn't need to be warded next to a pneumonia patient just because he has a wound that needs dressing," he added.

The government spends between RM500 and RM1,000 daily on warded patients depending on the severity of their illness he said. The amount was for the hospital's operational cost such as medications, staffing, food and utilities.

Aged Healthcare Act to replace Care Centres Act

The Act will apply to healthcare service providers for persons aged 60 years and above. Those under the Care Centres Act will continue to be governed under the Act, until the expiry date of their governing licence, after which they will need to register and be governed by the new Aged Healthcare Act said health director-general Datuk Dr. Noor Hisham.

Institutions licensed under the Private Health Care Facility Act can continue to operate as the standards of the law are sufficiently high.

“From discussions with stakeholders, it is anticipated that the demand for care services for elderly by the year 2030 is expected to increase.

“There has also been a mushrooming of many institutions and healthcare service providers which have yet to be regulated in terms of the quality and cost of their services,” he said. MIMS

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