ACCESSIBILITY, affordability and quality are the three important components needed for an effective healthcare system.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said this in his opening keynote address at the recent ASLI Healthcare Forum 2015 in Serdang.
The forum, themed “Malaysian Healthcare: Trends, Opportunities and Challenges”, saw the participation of a number of healthcare industry leaders and professionals.
Subramaniam said the government envisions better healthcare and the provision of a better aged care system through the co-operation of the public and private healthcare sectors.
Agreeing with him, Carol Yip, CEO of Aged Care Group (ACG), said that aged care must be addressed holistically and encompass not just the Health Ministry.
Yip was one of the panellists for the “Tapping the ‘Gold’ in Golden Years: Aged Care and Retirement Tourism” discussion.
She said that although services are provided by the public and private sectors as well as non- governmental organisations (NGOs), the government still plays an important role in policymaking and as the regulatory body.
She believes that healthcare and aged care must also involve the Ministries of Finance, Transport, Housing and Local Government, Education, Human Resources as well as Women, Family and Community Development.
“When we age, we do not just talk about our health. We need more than just money, for instance, to support our retirement life; there is also infrastructure, our living space, transportation, accessibility and mobility of the elderly in public areas, and not forgetting manpower, and caregivers to look after the elderly, especially those who are dependent,” said Yip.
According to Datuk Dr Jacob Thomas, president of the Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia (APHM), with the implementation of GST (goods and services tax) in April, the costs for healthcare, especially in the private sector, would be higher and this would naturally include healthcare for the aged.
Yip pointed out that as Malaysia is not a social welfare country, people need to save up for retirement so that they can pay for aged care services.
According to her, sustainability, affordability and quality aged care are important factors.
“Taking care of the elderly is not about sitting next to them and watching television together. You need skills. You do not learn this in school. Even if you learned it, you need to practise it. That is why the Education Ministry and Human Resources Ministry must come onboard. We need a supply of trained caregivers because elderly nursing care can be very costly,” she said.
She highlighted the issues and challenges faced by the aged care industry in Malaysia, including staffing, rehabilitation services, caregiving training, care assessment tools, recreational activities for elderly and infrastructure modification.
“ACG is a platform; we want to work with everyone. This cannot be done alone because it is a national issue, not a local issue. We are here to collaborate with everyone today.
“We want to educate the public. In line with this, ACG has created its first information portal for the elderly called 3age.com.my. We want to make it a place where Malaysians can get information and find solutions,” said Yip.
She informed that the portal, currently available in English and Chinese, will also have Bahasa Malaysia and Tamil versions in the future.
According to her, ACG is currently setting up a day care centre that runs a unique programme aimed at serving the full spectrum of aged care needs. Called the Circles Enriched Living Programme, it will cover the physical, mental, emotional, social and financial aspects of an elderly person’s life.
* There is currently a pilot Circles Enriched Living Programme at the Sungai Long Medical Centre (2nd floor) in Bandar Sungai Long, Kajang, Selangor. The operation hours are Monday, Thursday and Friday, 9.30am-4pm. For more information, call (03) 9010-3788 ext 216 or (010) 213-5023.
– Photo copyright ASLI