A GENEROUS FAMILY RAISED OVER $30,000 TO SUPPORT THE LEE AH MOOI OLD AGE HOME

On the 1st of February a generous family raised over SGD$ 30,000 to support the Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home by supplying them with a years worth of food supplies. Blogger Dhillon Lee KW shared his experience, “it was a incredible experience for all of us and thanks to the generosity of family and friends we were abled to distribute ang bao to everyone as well as a goody bag, on top of that we supplied them with a years worth of food supplies”

Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home was established in the mid 1960s by the late Madam Lee Ah Mooi. She was a registered nurse in the Singapore General Hospital during the 1930s and experienced the hardship of the Japanese Occupation when the hospital was seized by the Japanese forces to function as the Japanese military’s primary surgical centre in Southeast Asia.

The nursing home started out to provide nursing care for the Samsui women and Ah Mahs whose hard work contributed to Singapore’s development, both as a colony and as a nation. As most of them took vows never to marry and hence did not have off springs to take care of them, Madam Lee Ah Mooi took it upon herself to take care of them by taking them into her own home at Kampong Chong Pang. However, her neighbors were against it as they did not want sickness and death to be so close to their homes. This forced Madam Lee and her residents to leave.

The next two to three years, they wandered around Singapore, from Telok Blangah to Kampong Teck Whye, seeking a place to house all the residents. Finally, she found a bungalow in Jalan Kayu big enough and managed to take care of these early immigrants for a good 13 years. However, the accommodation was limited.

The Home moved from Jalan Kayu to the present premise (formally Lee Kuo Chuan Primary School) in 1984 with the support of the late Mr. Lim Kim San who was known for his contribution to the development of the Public Housing programme in Singapore. The premise is currently leased from Singapore Land Authority under the Temporary Occupation License (TOL) on a renewal basis of 3 years and hence, the nursing home might be relocated or even demolished at a short time’s notice.

Together with her family members, Madam Lee Ah Mooi helped to provide skilled nursing care and rehabilitation services to people with illnesses, injuries or functional disabilities. After the passing of Madam Lee in 1992, the nursing home was passed down to her two sons, Mr. Then Mun Wah and Mr. Then Mun Tat, who continue to manage the home together till today.

Currently, the Home is dedicated to provide high quality healthcare services to 110 aged residents. We also have 8 ‘resident workers’ (residents abandoned by their family), whom we provide them with free food, lodging and medical care. These ‘resident workers’ have been staying with us since the early 70s when the late Madam Lee adopted them when they were young.

The Home is a private nursing home that does not receive any subsidies from the government and as the Home is catered for low-income to middle-income families, we have been absorbing rising costs for the food and medical needs of the residents. The nursing home is different from other profit-driven home as our mission is to provide quality nursing care at affordable price. In fact, the monthly fee for staying in the nursing home is approximately 30% lesser than what some other nursing homes are charging. Even as costs of running the nursing home have increased, we are trying our best to ensure that the residents and their families would not bear the brunt of it through cost-effective measures without compromising the quality of nursing care.

The Home also offers special subsidiary rates for families who cannot offer to pay the monthly fees and are rejected by governmental organizations because they have failed the means testing for staying at government-subsidized nursing homes. We get the funding from these monthly payments but more often than not, there would be default in payments and there would be nothing much that we can do. Engaging in legal means would only increase our costs and we also would not send the residents back to their homes because most of the time, the families would neglect them. In any case, the Home strongly believes that providing quality nursing services and catering to the needs of our residents as top priority because most of them are spending their twilight years in the Home.

Difficult times sometimes yield the most innovative solutions. Knowing that most of our residents qualify for the enhanced subsidies, we applied and were approved to be a provider for subsidized nursing care. Furthermore, the Government’s enhanced subsidies for nursing home care were made easier for middle-income households.

As of 1st August 2012, we have been approved as a private nursing home with portable subsidies. Although the nursing home fees for subsidized residents will increase substantially, the out-of-pocket payment will be a lot lesser than what they were paying as private patients. The government will absorb the goods and services tax for subsidized patients and our nursing home will still provide additional support if needed.

We will receive extra funding that will help us n many ways. This includes sending the staff for additional trainings, mitigating the operating costs in our nursing home and more importantly, offsetting future fee increases for the residents that still do not qualify for the subsidies.

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We have 35 staffs to provide high quality nursing care for the residents. Nursing care is provided by registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and certified nurse aids. Also, 5 of them are local staffs who have been in the nursing service for as long as 50 years. Many of them came out of retirement to help the nursing home and educate the younger generation of staffs with their experience. The remaining staffs come from Myanmar, Philippines, Sri Lanka and India.

In the years ahead, Singapore is fast becoming an ageing society that will definitely see a surge in the demand for medical treatment as a result of Singapore’s rapid growth and the post-war baby boom of the 1950s. Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home hopes to carry on the legacy of the Madam Lee Ah Mooi in providing affordable and quality nursing care services to the Singapore population.

Joe Raymond

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